Emerging artist Rob Ventura offers large and medium scale works on canvas that explore the intersection between formalist pictorial strategies and post-modern concerns of visual passage in a digital age. His paintings are typically rendered in oil on canvas and consist of stained glass like petals of color, layered and leafy across dense pictorial fields. These jewel-toned compositions structurally read as collage or geographic mapping with a sense of light that seems to emanate from behind. This quality of being "back-lit" has as much in common with paper based watercolor and printmaking as it does with traditional paint on canvas and the artist brings this multi-disciplinary sensibility to the works assembled here.
Ventura's all over compositions manage a successful tension between vibrant color and twilight tonalities, veering toward the duskier gradations of the color spectrum. Says the artist, "I'm invested in the darker side of contemporary culture; notions of pleasure/pain, authenticity, sensuality, decadence and the existential quest for meaning." Inspired by the seminal 19th century collection of poems from Charles Baudelaire "Les Fleurs du Mal" (The Flowers of Evil) the recent works point toward the paradoxical concerns to be found within Baudelaire's poems and to a visual degree within Ventura's paintings; ideological aspiration vs. sensorial reality, modern progress vs. traditional truism, existential possibility vs. nihilistic pessimism.
Other forms within Ventura's works include a dense system of patterning partnered with expansive fields of color that speaks to the digitization of contemporary life, the congested quality of urban environments and the mapping of informatics terrain. But there is nature within this expression as well. Environmental shapes like foliage or feathers populate these canvases, albeit in an abstract way. Rubies and sapphire shards seem suggested, and almost twinkle and catch fire among the darker expanses.
The tension between differing but mutually present subject matter within Ventura's paintings can be drawn out to his art historical interests and influences as well. Says the artist, "I think these paintings have a digital quality and belong to the information age, but at the same time are classical and quite conservative. My interest is in the late stages of post-modern culture and its genealogical relation to early Modernism and Existentialism in the 19th Century." Indeed, like a Tarantino directorial mash-up, Ventura pulls and transcends pictorial cues from his Abstract Expressionist and Color-Field forebears like Helen Frankenthaler, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. He retains a color sensitivity thoroughly rooted in the now. Tonal variations in his works, like Instagram filters, offer subtle and slight modifications within his painted particulates, challenging the cursory glance and holding the eye for passages that are rich in rewards to the patient and committed viewer.
Rob Ventura (b. 1989, Perth Amboy, NJ, United States) is an emerging artist who is best known for making abstract paintings that are reminiscent of digital culture. Through a process-oriented approach he paints, in oil on canvas, facsimiles of vectorized images composed in Photoshop. The resulting works investigate the relationships between post-war abstraction, media culture, and cyberspace. Ventura received his Masters of Fine Arts with honors from Boston University's Painting and Drawing program in 2013. He has since exhibited in New York City at Signal Gallery, Freight + Volume, and SLA307, in California at The Los Angeles Center of Digital Art and in New Jersey at Proto Gallery, Hoboken and the Majestic Theatre, Jersey City. He currently lives and works in the New York metropolitan area. His works are included in the public collections of Boston University and Sovereign Bank and he has been covered by publications like LVL3 Media, HMAG, and Boston Art Underground.
—Writing credits, Enrico Gomez (Excerpt from "Les Fleurs du Mal" press release)