Ricky Ambagan: Fresh Produce


What Grows on Your Garden

Alluding himself to that red watering can amidst a bright yellow mood Ricky Ambagan further expounds his recent paintings in What Grows in Your Garden. Done in visual atonality employed with a sense of caprice, Ambagan tempers how one must empty oneself to be filled up again. He derives deep from popular images ranging from art history to domestic everyday scenes in what constitutes as his banal memories, amplified fears and hopeful predilections he unconsciously tends to be our own. The act of transfiguration allowed us into his innermost kaleidoscope–be it personal or social–in these 16 pieces on display.

Two of Us

 The strangeness of how a scent, or in this case, a song could evoke an emotional chord from the past is evident in Two of Us. Reminiscent of that popular Beatle song, there is more to those three abandoned cars left to rust in remembrance in a gloomy forest. As time happens too fast, our lives are revved up in one swift pace that problems of our time are failing to elicit memory can be both disruptive and aching activity in such a busy traffic of images.

Beast from East

Beast from East “historizes” the book of Revelation in its present context and debunks age-old myths by means of eclectic iconography. One of the hardest books of to understand, Revelation is the final battle between good and evil with the Anti-Christ leading to deceive humanity. Gathering icons such as the sumo wrestler, robot, and golden dragon in the middle appropriated in the equation, one cannot fathom not only who will emerge as the victor, which is good and bad in this conflict. Mushrooms provide the neutral illumination in a rather barren ground. Even a burning mosquito killer is defiant.

Behind the Trees

Even with the cast and setting complete, one may think that Behind the Trees is all on the vanishing of the Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. It could also dwell about true love, when a man and a woman and that you-and-me-against-the-world adage in between. Ambagan’s juxtaposes his naïve characters in alarming compromise conniving in a somewhat alerted hues of the scene, pausing or even being stuck at the moment.   

Well versed in composition, Ambagan’s painterly technique induces raw and transparency in materiality breaking off his previous heavily brushed canvases, with earlier ones some tediously done in arresting distorted strokes. In creating this current space he is more restless in form, more lose to his liking. Branches in dark tones resembling nodes of electrons (its similarity to veins) in a digital mind are constant in all the pieces. Ambagan holds on these distinct framing, favoring what is stunning and of wonder to his brushes.

Last Dance

Last Dance pushes one out of his comfort zone. How far can one commit in attaining one’s goals not to lose motivation? A ballerina on the edge of a couch realizes the-when-I-grow-up-dream vis-a-vis the corporate job that pays the bills dilemma. One must not be limited to one’s goals set for oneself yet do you leave the nest for greener pasture abroad or do we conform and be rats ourselves in the race?

The brilliance of Ambagan is how he always keeps his concepts unsullied and intact. Entering his fruitful mid-career, he continues to splatter fresh paints on his big bright ideas while keeping his audience looking remains evident as he is still relevant. One eagerly awaits his next bountiful harvest.  

What Grows in Your Garden is the 6th Solo Exhibition by Ricky Ambagan. Ongoing until May 22, 2015 at the Gallery Anna, SM Megamall.