Ronald Ventura is known for creating strong imagery in painted canvases as well as stimulating environments created by his sculptural installations. In Rainbow Punch 2, he once again taps the visual impact of compositions in the two-dimensional medium with three-dimensional experience.
The sculpture consists of a boy in his undies, his head tucked inside an old-fashioned television set with nothing but color bars on its screen. His body is slightly bent and leans toward a painted canvas as if viewing it intently, or the sheer weight of the “idiot box” covering his entire head causing him to grapple for balance, with the TV gravitating in the direction of the larger visual spectacle shown in the canvas as if he is totally denied of vision. The canvas, meanwhile, depicts an intense moment of confrontation in the boxing ring - a boxer violently punching an opponent who has seemingly collapsed on the floor in surrender. The entire scene is slightly blurred by paint-like splatters, sanitizing the gore and rendering it fun and colourful.
This work is consistent with Ventura’s commentaries on how the media and the saturation of images in the postmodern world have turned violence into an aesthetic and spectacle. The pivotal role played by technology such as electronics and gadgets, in this transformation still figure prominently in this work with its reference to the television set and popular media in the form of broadcasted sports events. Another key reflection that his assemblages of this type open up and he highlights in this specific work is the question of the relationship between the spectator and the spectacle, the object and the bearer of the gaze. Oftentimes, he presents such riddles by inverting the expected players of the two roles. This approach is seen, for example, in a previous work titled Rainbow Punch 1 in which the boy inside the TV set appears to be viewing a scene outside: the figure being watched suddenly becomes the watcher, and a watcher conscious and aware of his position inside the TV at that. From an art historical perspective, this very same relationship between a conscious spectator and an unknowing object of spectacle has also challenged artists on the threshold of Modernism. Manet, for instance, unsettled the traditional formula of the painting as a window through which one peeks as a voyeur to unsuspecting subjects; by making one of the subjects confront the eye of the spectator. With the explosion of reality television in recent years, the line separating the world of the observer and the observed has become even more porous.
Such disorientation is woven in Rainbow Punch 2 by blocking the eye of a viewer and enclosing it inside an object of spectacle. But what one sees on the screen is not an image to feed a spectator’s gaze, but the absence of signal or transmission. The television set here becomes the observer as it functions as the head and eyes viewing a huge scene before it. The placement of the TV set as the head of a human (or enclosing the head of a human) also yields more powerful and pressing intimations on how popular media affects human consciousness. In this case, we can see the TV having totally blocked human vision, and, in effect, limited the reality that can be possibly known within the confines of a hollow tube.