SILVERMAN and Majestic Theatre Condominium Association presents
Rob Ventura • Les Fleurs du Mal
curated by Enrico Gomez
July 14, 2016 - Oct 30, 2016
Opening Reception: July 14, 2016, 6-8pm
Majestic Theatre Condominiums Gallery
222 Montgomery Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Emerging artist Rob Ventura offers large and medium scale works on canvas that explore the intersection between formalist pictorial strategies and the 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.” Taken from the seminal 19th century collection of poems from Charles Baudelaire “Les Fleurs du Mal” (The Flowers of Evil) the shows title points 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 conflation of natural and man-made forms here finds an apt match in the poetry of Baudelaire who wrote,
“I saw a swan that had escaped from his cage
That stroked the dry pavement with his webbed feet
And dragged his white plumage over the uneven ground.
Beside a dry gutter the bird opened his beak,
Restlessly bathed his wings in the dust
And cried, homesick for his fair native lake …”
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.
Taking inspiration also from artist Cy Twombly’s Peonies series, Rob Ventura’s floral forms, abstracted and transfigured here, highlight the irony and beauty of this iconic subject, blossoming/peaking in its own decay. With pops of color and glinty shapes of resonant hue, the paintings in “Les Fleurs du Mal” are, in the artist’s words, “dark with a haunting quality” yet ultimately arc toward the optimistic, finding form within the void, radiance amidst shadow.
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 and Freight + Volume, in California at The Los Angeles Center of Digital Art and in New Jersey at Proto Gallery, Hoboken. He currently lives and works in the New York metropolitan area. Included in the public collections of Boston University and Sovereign Bank he has been covered by NJ.com, HMAG and Boston Art Underground.
The exhibition will be on view in The Majestic Theatre Condominiums Gallery from July 14, 2016 - October 30, 2016. For further information, please visit us at SILVERMAN or call (201) 435-8000. Majestic Theatre Condominiums Gallery is located at 222 Montgomery Street in Jersey City.
“Rob Ventura • Les Fleurs du Mal” is the first exhibition that artist/curator Enrico Gomez will organize for SILVERMAN. For additional information on the exhibiting artist, please visit: robventura.com. For additional information on the curator, please visit: enricogomez.com and thedoradoproject.com.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Robert Hendrickson, Sarah Becktle, Kati Vilim, Mark Dagley, Candy Le Sueur, Ed Fausty, Anna Mogilevsky, Ali Harrington, Sara Wolfe, Anne Percoco, Shauna Finn, Melanie Vote, Paul Lempa, Fanny Allié, Michael Meadors, John A. Patterson, Charlotte Becket, Roger Sayre, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Tom McGlynn, Margaret Murphy, Valeri Larko, Tenesh Webber, Glenn Garver, Jennifer Krause Chapeau, Michelle Doll, Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa, Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.