Ventura, Ronald b.1973 / Carne Carnivale
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Ventura, Ronald b.1973 / Carne Carnivale Ventura, Ronald b.1973 / Carne Carnivale Ventura, Ronald b.1973 / Carne Carnivale
about this work

'Carne Carnivale' is from a series of works that take inspiration from the intense, often quite bloody rites that are still performed during Lent in certain parts of the Philippines, such as San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province. There, penitents gather during Holy Week for public events, not officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, in which Christ’s passion and crucifixion are re-enacted, with penitents flagellating themselves using bamboo sticks tied to a rope, or spending hours nailed to wooden crosses.

Ventura has long been fascinated with how tradition and faith shape identity in his native Philippines, and the ways in which the powerful influences of contemporary global pop culture continue the process of cultural syncretism that has been active in the country since the beginning of Spanish colonialism in the 16th century. In 'Carne Carnivale', Ventura incorporates Caravaggio’s painting 'Flagellation of Christ' with imagery from vintage carnival posters and figures of acrobats with animal heads. Commenting on how the rituals have become a type of tourist attraction Ventura overlays the phrase “The Greatest Show on Earth,” a well-known advertising slogan for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, on top of the image of Christ on the cross. Known for his unusual combination of motifs, the acrobats with human bodies and animal heads prancing around the canvas refer to his 'Zoomanities' sculpture series. These combined elements emphasize Ventura’s sentiments in this statement about the Lenten rites, “What was supposed to be a solemn ritual has become a feast. A feast of flesh, so to speak. It’s a party, a happy event, a platform for talented Pinoys. Christ showed his power in conquering death. Men, too, would want to do a showcase of sorts.”  

'The skin of his subjects can become an expressive surface, with tattoo drawings adding a new layer of meaning. Over the years he has developed a menagerie of what he calls “zoomanities” — human subjects with animal attributes, and vice versa — based on early 17th-century etchings of humanized animals he once saw.' Sonia Kolesnikov- Jessop from the New York Times

The commingling of iconographic references present in Endless Resurrection, which range from the past (Caravaggio, Bosch, Michelangelo) to folklore, all the way co betrayed traditions, finds its motive in the concep1 of resurrection, understood as a metaphor of an artistic practice that leads to the continuous regeneration of art. The works included in the exhibition put into play the metaphor of the skin as a casing upon which reactions to social distress are impressed, as well as the substratum of violence and aggression, ever-present in individuals. Concentrating on the excessive theatricality of Catholic rites, Ventura notes how, in an attempt to atone for a fault or express gratitude to God for a received grace, individuals transmute a spiritual yearning into a form of violence against themselves. Among the paintings that testify this ambiguous form of catharsis, Carne Carnivale (2014) is illustrative of how both images and rituals inevitably mislay their true relationship with the religious meaning of the narrative to which they make reference. By super­imposing a circus scene upon Caranggio's Flagellation of Christ (1607-08), Ventura focuses on several aspects of religious celebrations which, turned into habit, allow the ritual's most orgiastic aspects to emerge. These very aspects intrigue and attract tourists who hasten to attend self-flagellations during the Holy Week in the Philippines with the same spirit with which they might watch a circus performance. In Carne Carnivale, we catch a glimpse of the phrase "The Greatest Show on Earth," taken from the slogan printed on posters for the Barnum & Bailey Circus, which is 1952 became the title of a famous film by Cecil DeMille. The inclusion of a commercial slogan which invites us to rush to see a performance underscores how the tourist industry is able to exploit the rituality tied to the sacred sphere, making it sound like a moment of amusement. 

Placing images and concepts from different, often contrasting, contexts side by side, as in Carne Carnivale, offers the work a universal character by implying chat single images transcend their specificity. Intertwined and connect­ed, they are able to collect a series of their own rawness as well as the memory of what they have been. In this sense, more than a dilated image, Ventura's paintings illustrate a whole that has been shrunk in an attempt to contain all things. Each detail, then, has its double. It is both what it is and what it hides; it is both text and subtext. 

Like in video games, Ventura's images are virtual images constructed and modeled after reality. Having become other than self, they unite the present, memories and dreams, and reveal a fear of the contamination and improper use of science, while providing an important role to the archaic, mythological and fable worlds, as well as the playful imagination of an age in which it was amusing to pretend co be riding a real horse on the platform of a carousel. By developing increasingly vast interconnections, Ventura's scenes ultimately become a hybrid of surreal and hyperreal. 

 - Ronald Ventura, Works 1998-2017, by Demetrio Paparoni

Ronald Ventura (b.1973, Philippines)

Carne Carnivale , 2014

Oil on canvas
183 x 122 cm
72 1/16 x 48 1/16 in.
Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York NY, USA  Current Location:
Hong Kong - BRINK'S HK PaintingSouth Asia


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