Books & Art

You Need to Check Out a Rare BenCab and Ronald Ventura Collaboration

The once-in-a-lifetime collaboration is not to be missed.
IMAGE BigBoy Cheng
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Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera and Ronald Ventura are two of the most prominent names in art in the Philippines. One can only imagine what would happen when the two get together and work on a project. 

Well we need not imagine anymore. The two artists came together for a very unique project entitled, appropriately enough, “Bencab x Ronald Ventura,” which is being held at art influencer Bigboy Cheng's Secret Fresh Gallery. The project involves six designs for limited edition digital prints that each artist initially worked on separately and then combined digitally to produce a truly collaborative piece of art. Only three prints were reproduced for each design, which make them truly rare and a must-have for diehard collectors and fans of the artists.

Ventura and BenCab with friends

Photo by Secret Fresh / BigBoy Cheng.
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Auspicious encounter

According to Ruel Caasi, director of Ronald Ventura Studio, the project stemmed from an auspicious encounter between the two formidable creative forces who continue to push the boundaries of art. The pair engaged in an intense conversation about the past, present and the future, as well as the enduring challenges that Filipinos and humanity in general grapple with throughout history.

Caasi explains in the exhibition notes that BenCab and Ventura represent two different generations of artists, yet their careers share parallelisms in terms of prolific production, market presence and institutional recognition. Though both have expressed distinct artistic voices, their style, techniques, themes and subjects share some common grounds.

BenCab and BigBoy Cheng examine one of the art pieces

Photo by Secret Fresh / BigBoy Cheng.
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“The forging of these analogous elements revisits the narratives woven and dialogues initiated by the artists in their respective practices, and at the same time generate new meanings as they resonate with concerns and issues of the present,” Caasi says.

BenCab’s familiar images of Filipino women clad in traditional clothing from his series influenced by turn of the 20th century colonial photography pays a nostalgic ode to tradition and longs for a bygone era by setting the monochromatic figures against flat, bright hues, or framing them in vigorous strokes of colors.

Ronald Ventura and BenCab with Tim Yap (center)

Photo by Secret Fresh / BigBoy Cheng.
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Two of the greats

Born in 1942, BenCab became a National Artist of the Philippines (in Painting) in 2006 and is considered the bestselling painter of his generation of Filipino artists.

Caasi noted that the past gains contemporary presence as the intricacies of the folds and draping—captured by BenCab’s intense engagement with figuration—contrast sharply with their solid backgrounds.

Ventura, on the other hand, “layers BenCab’s iconic imagery with his own oeuvre of figures and approaches to merging the past and the present, and explores their manifold continuities.”

Born in 1973, Ventura became an instructor in the University of Sto. Tomas right after earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the same institution in 1993. He made his first local solo exhibition in 2000 in West Gallery, SM Megamall and held his first US exhibition at the Tyler Rollins Fine Art Gallery in New York in 2009. In 2011, his art piece named “Greyhound” was sold for a whooping $1.1 million at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Southeast Asian Painting Auction held in Hong Kong.

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BenCab poses with his paintings

Photo by Secret Fresh / BigBoy Cheng.

Ventura’s skillful draftsmanship highlights drawing as the starting point which all other complex permutations of the image proceeds from—be it painting, sculpture, or print. According to Caasi, the “imprint of Ventura in the graceful curvilinear motifs seemingly drawn from classical tradition (is) superimposed over BenCab’s maidens, as well as in other subtle line drawings variously suggesting vines, wings and faces.”

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Sold out 

Cheng, who owns Secret Fresh Gallery where the joint exhibition was held, is not only a known art influencer but is a big figure in ultra highend street wear as well. We featured his jaw-dropping unboxing of his Air Dior-dan’s for close to P900,000 (link here) last summer and has made previous collaborations with BenCab and UK hi-fidelity turntable brand Rega, among other projects with the renowned national artist.   

We’re told that most of the art pieces were sold out already but there are some pieces that remain available for viewing at Secret Fresh Gallery. For more info, follow Secret Fresh on social media.

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