On the burden of beasts
In Ronald Ventura’s latest show - titled “The Hunting Ground” at Primo Marella Gallery in Milan, Italy - the artist dares to take viewers into the heart of darkness, into the borderline that separates instinct and reason.
He poses the question: “As wild beasts are getting tamer and tamer, why is the supposedly civilized man becoming wilder and more beastly?”. As such, Ventura’s artworks take off from that premise.
In the paintings, lions, wolves and tigers pose magisterially, more like emblems of royalty than symbols of jungle, desert or savannah lordship. Wildly flowing branches intersect with straight sturdy lines, emblematic perhaps for the constant tip-off between perennially contending forces. Female figures sprout petals and feathers, probably a commentary on how women have metamorphosed these days into something else entirely.
The artworks will be placed in a room like portraits of power, framed ornately, flitting between glower and grace.
“I want to take viewers on a walk on the wild side” the artist says: the gallery will be darkened; only four posts will be source of light. The interiors will be festooned with branches and dead trees, with sculptures perched either menacingly or passively above. The idea is to unnerve and then impress.
What is interesting is how the implements of animal cruelty - chains, whips, birdcages and blinders - will be placed in museum-worthy glass cases. To be laid out in rows. They will be presented like artefacts of a bygone area. This is probably the artist’s take on how these tools of cruelty will be administered to humans in the dystopian days to come. Man the hunter, in the end hunted down.
Such is the world of Ronald Ventura: capable of astounding viewers with images of dark, sinister beauty.