Ronald Ventura exhibit extended again at The M

I attended the launch of the exhibit Places of Memory, Places of the Heart: Philippine Plazas at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, when I reminisced what I had read in the newspapers and was often discussed during my several eating clubs that months ago — the depository had a blast of a reopening with Ronald Ventura. It was a coup for both! So what better way to welcome back art lovers and the genuinely curious than an exhibition by one of Philippines’ most renowned modern artists?

I soon discovered that his show had yet another extension. I instantly felt the magnetic pull of the designated hall on the ground floor. But let’s first retrace the much-looked-forward-to transfer of the well-loved Roxas Boulevard mainstay.

Once located at the Bangko Sentral Complex, the institution prematurely and temporarily closed its portals during the height of the pandemic lockdowns. It graciously transitioned to an online setup. In time, it was back with a vengeance at the Mariano K. Tan Center in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), with a rebranded name — The M.

Today with the battle cry, “Art for All,” the museum finds itself within the vibrant, arts-oriented community of BGC, where it perfectly sits amidst the high-rise architectural marvels, with full-sized mural walls and gigantic installations within its periphery. Its public arts programs keep the vibe fresh and alive.

Hyper Beast (Lion) (fiberglass resin, acrylic and polyurethane paint, 2022)

The new home was designed by New York-based Filipino-Colombian architect Carlos Arnaiz of CAZA, the firm associated with projects such as the Hamilo Pavilion in Batangas, Philippines; the Long Island City Oyster in Queens, New York; and the Lurin Eco-Industrial Park in Lurin, Peru.

Ventura is the Southeast Asian contemporary, record-setting artist whose painting, Grayground, an existential mashup of horses in various art styles, was auctioned off to a whopping $1.1 million at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings event in Hong Kong. He is popular for his bold strokes of graffiti, as he melds reality and cartoons together in a style that is absolutely and uniquely his.

‘Burn,’ charcoal on twill carbon fiber, 2022.
‘Beast Master on Hypebeast,’ oil on twill carbon fiber, 2022.

This has manifested yet again in his latest, Quick Turn on Hyper Highways, which explores beyond the bounds of modern perception. The obras long for the outdoors through unabashed iconography, megabucks vehicles and high-end luxury car parts.

The premium spectacle boasts of tiger sculptures and horse paintings, all with graffiti lines, plus a classic Renaissance-era masterpiece smeared with yellow marks. A car hood titled Beast Master on Hypebeast takes the shape of an intricate image of a horse.

‘The Summit,’ oil on canvas, 2022.

It spills over the four walls with Anito Bart, a rendition reminiscent of The Simpson rascal. Created with fiberglass, resin and carbon fiber statue with a skateboard, he is one of the creatures that prowl The M pedestrian lanes.

The collection was born during the prolonged stay-at-home period, when Ventura redefined his approach to art. He longed to break out of the cage and be free like a speeding car on a wide open empty highway.

A Renaissance-era masterpiece with streaks of graffiti

The show is co-curated by critic and professor Patrick D. Flores and lauded multimedia artist Ruel Caasi.

I urge you to make arrangements for an unforgettable visit. Interested guests need to fill out the pre-registration form at a day ahead.

Quick Turn on Hyper Highways is extended until this month. The M is located at M.K. Tan Center, 30th Street, BGC, Taguig City, Metro Manila.