Art/Style/Travel DiariesStyle

Ronald Ventura holds 1st solo selling exhibit of 2022

'He is the embodiment of what it means to be a Filipino contemporary master'

Ronald Ventura in his studio.

With a formidable following and record-breaking sales in local and international auctions, Ronald Ventura has become a bonafide art world powerhouse. Salcedo Auctions is bringing Ronald Ventura to today’s growing art cognoscenti and art collectors in Beastmaster, from Oct. 25 to Nov. 9, 2022, with previews from Tuesday to Saturday,  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the main gallery of Salcedo Auctions (NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

Ventura’s remarkable run started with the record-breaking sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong back in 2011, when his painting, Grayground, sold for HK 8,420,000 (PHP 47,152,000 /USD 1,082,000) —the highest amount paid for a Southeast Asian contemporary artist at that time. Lavish media coverage followed, including a  2011 review in The New York Times, along with local and international exhibitions.

This was followed 10 years later at the Christie’s Hong Kong auction in  May 2021,  when Party Animals drew a five-minute or so bidding battle that escalated to surpass the million-US-dollar mark he had set a decade ago, culminating in a HK 19,450,000 (Php 123,293,550 / USD 2,502,573) banner sale.

Ventura’s glamorously goth ‘Beasty Eyes’ at Salcedo Auctions’ The Well Appointed Life sale last September drew the winning bid of P17,540,000 from a foreign buyer.

Just three months later, Ventura made a mark in Japan with the opening of his first large-scale solo exhibition at the Karuizawa New Art Museum in Nagano. The extensive 120-piece show  gave viewers the full breadth of Ventura’s expansive and fantastical universe, depicted in large-to-intimately-scaled sculptures alongside works on canvas.

Ventura now brings the same brio to his much-awaited Beastmaster,  Ventura’s first solo selling Philippine exhibition in 2022.

‘Territorial Crossing,’ fiberglass and resin, acrylic and polyurethane paint, 2019

For the show, the artist explored the meaning of, and ideas associated with, his thematic choice, creating beasts of every kind to pull apart long-held perceptions, or blend mediums, motifs, and beliefs to produce a perplexing whole.  ‘Territorial Crossing,’ among them, was inspired by Christian iconography where St. Luke, the Evangelist, is symbolized as a bull, a sacrificial animal. Ventura’s hybrid creature seems poist to resist attempts at subjugation, the bold yellow on black stripes alerting the viewer to its aggressive stance, forward-leaning posture and the extra horns.

‘Beastmaster (2),’ charcoal on twill, carbon fiber, 2022 (left); Untitled, oil on canvas with fiberglass, resin frame, 2022.

Ventura delves into the dynamics of power and control between a master and his mechanical beast in a series of paintings depicting one of  his favorite subjects, cars. In Beastmaster (2), Ventura portrays a car driver in the act of wearing or removing a helmet. It is a safety routine that also suggests the driver’s consideration of a beast’s power for destruction. An untitled canvas is a disturbing collision of Ventura’s baroque and classical tendencies, depicting the aftermath of reckless navigation, or perhaps a beast gone amok.

‘Beastmaster (4)’, charcoal on twill carbon fiber (left), and ‘Beastmaster (A)’, fiberglass and resin 

Beastmaster (4) is a reincarnation of the mythological sphinx, as guardian and master of its tire track-marked urban domain. The artist allows for relief with sculptures like Beastmaster (A).  A monkey (inspired by the Bored Ape NFTs) is dressed as an explorer as it surveys the landscape. It assumes the pose associated with safari hunters who assert dominance by resting a foot on their so-called trophies. In a comic twist, the usual animal trophy is replaced with a banana peel, with the monkey’s traditional enemy depicted as a meek sidekick waiting at its feet. The monkey provokes with a wide grin, to remind the viewer of the humor that also resides in Ventura’s phantasmagorical realm.

Salcedo Auctions chairman Richie Lerma, who has charted Ventura’s rise to the peak in the contemporary Philippine art market and among the region’s top artists, says: “From the time Ronald Ventura first gained widespread critical acclaim for his Human Study series in 2004, for which he received the Ateneo Art Awards, to his first regional arts residency which I was proud to have been part of, having traveled with him to Sydney, Melbourne and the outback of Australia which gave rise to his many antipodean leitmotifs—among these, the yellow of quarantine tape and street crossings, the sniffer dogs, as well as the brilliance of the continent’s sun-dappled urban and desert landscape, to the figurative surrealist journey of pop cultural palimpsests through which his always inquisitive mind processes the  realities that he finds himself in, Ronald Ventura is the embodiment of what it means to be a Filipino contemporary master—trendsetting, his finger always on the pulse of society and interpreting this with the slick graphical precision hewn in the Philippine academe and by his now global practice that has taken him to the art centers of New York, Milan, Tokyo, Taipei, and Hong Kong. Through the twists, turns, and thrills and spills of the local art circuit, only one driver  has set the pace for all those who have followed him, and remains firmly in control.

“And that is why Ronald Ventura is at Salcedo.” 

‘Beastmaster’ runs from Oct. 25-November 9, 2022, with previews from Tuesday to Saturday,  9AM to 5PM at the main gallery of Salcedo Auctions (NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City). The online catalogue is available at For inquiries, email [email protected] or phone +632 8 8230956 | +63 917 591 2191. Follow @salcedoauctions @gavelandblock on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

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