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Get lost in the worlds of Ricky Ambagan

Go on a nostalgic and fantastical adventure with the pajama-clad boy of Ricky Ambagan.

In Los Baños, there exists a thrift store aptly named The Practical Shop, which sells a collection of second hand furniture and household items. The shop feels quite nostalgic, but not obsolete or rickety, what with its sturdy wooden staircase, assortment of vintage pieces, and a second floor chock-full of old pocketbooks, vintage magazines, and thick tomes. 

Any bookworm who grew up in the town during the early 2000s—myself included—has at least spent a day getting lost in the charms and collections of The Practical Shop. I still remember the joy I felt when I chanced upon the book version of “Mewtwo Strikes Back,” the main segment of Pokémon’s first movie back in 2002. To this day, I still visit the shop whenever I can, spending hours scouring the shelves for a book or two to enjoy. 

Old books and magazines line the second floor of The Practical Shop. I got transported to this space when I saw Ricky Ambagan’s works. PHOTO: Jose Miguel Dionora

These memories came flooding back when I visited Ricky Ambagan’s solo exhibition at Salcedo Private View on its debut night last week. Titled “no one had foreseen…”,  the show focuses on a child’s journey to an expansive world within his imagination, brought about by his own curiosities and pursuit of knowledge.

There is an intimate quality to Ambagan’s works—a sense of warmth and nostalgia that gently invites audiences to recollect their childhood with fondness. We see ourselves in the pajama-clad boy as he explores and expands the limits of his mind through books, toys, and fantastical things.

“A huge part of my narrative style of art making comes from my childhood memories and experiences,” says the artist. “The absence of ‘material things’ in my humble beginnings forced me to innovate and adopt [within] different situations. You have no choice but to use your imagination and logical thinking to evolve as an artist and person.”

Admittedly, it was easy for me to see myself as the boy, seeing that he was getting lost within a world depicted in wooden, earthy tones. Such was the ambiance that The Practical Shop evoked during my childhood to this day. However, I surmise that anybody who has gotten lost in their own world—whether through books, the arts, child’s play, or exercises of imagination—could easily see themselves venturing with the pajama-clad boy.

The artist welcomes and appreciates these kinds of feedback. Ambagan is happy whenever his works elicit reactions from audiences—positive or otherwise. He affirms that these responses are part of the creative process and are solid proof that the metaphorical or allegorical language of his works are able to reach and stir something in viewers. 

‘Woke’, 36 x 48 inches, Oil on canvas, 2022

no one had foreseen…” is a sequel to his previous solo exhibitions at Salcedo Private View, “From Here” and “I’m Coming Home.” Ambagan notes that working with the gallery offers a different kind of experience for artists.  

“‘Salcedo Private View’ focuses on the [curation] and development of every exhibit—of shows that [an artist] can possibly produce. Working with the team helped me facilitate the technical and the promotional aspects of the [exhibit]. It’s an honor [to work] with them,” he adds.

Ricky Ambagan

“no one had foreseen…” will run until December 17, 2022, from 9AM to 5PM at the main gallery of Salcedo Auctions (NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City). The online catalog is available at salcedoauctions.com. For inquiries, email info@salcedoauctions.com or phone +632 8 8230956 | +63 917 591 2191. Follow @salcedoauctions @gavelandblock on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

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