For many of us, the term “morning after” may instantly refer to realizing the effects of overindulgence the night before, often involving indiscretion. Artist Olan Ventura, in his latest one-man exhibit at the Ayala Museum, chooses to dwell on its connotation as being a part of the natural course of life. No regrets included.
This time, he moves away from doing portraits and re-focuses his attention on still life, particularly fruits he personally picked and arranged in a basket. He chronicles them through their ripeness to their rotten state. Ventura demonstrates this through a series of 12 3’ x 4’ paintings in acrylic, capturing in fantastic detail the different stages of the fruits’ existence after they reach their peak form—”still life” gradually developing into “still death,” as the fruits begin to rot, wrinkle, and deform after each passing day.
Most artists, and even novice painters, want to paint their subjects at their most beautiful, idyllic phases. Ventura, on the other hand, isn’t only after aesthetics, but aims to present his subject matter in an entirely different perspective, to “change the rules,” so to speak. There may be 12 different canvases next to each other on the wall, but to Ventura, they are all parts of a whole.
Prior to painting, Ventura painstakingly took photos of the fruits at different times of the day every day until they were past their safe shelf life. Such meticulous documentation process provided him the opportunity to choose which to save for posterity, selecting 12 that highlighted the physical changes in the fruits. While there is a degree of repetition throughout the process, Ventura’s most serious challenge is to remain consistent with his photorealistic techniques—making his subjects look the same, but different in some way, as they age.
While digital photography and other photo editing enhancements have been developed to make life easier for everyone else, Ventura remains a believer in traditional painting to show the nuances in tone that would be otherwise dulled by technology. In essence, such faith in his craft relaxes him, affording him to explore similar subjects further and accepting greater creative challenges in the future. Lesser mortals would cringe as the degree of artistic difficulty rises; Ventura would welcome it with wide smiles and open arms.