In finalizing my review of the work of both Matthew Ritchie and Daniel Richter, several similarities between the two were apparent. Each painting was professionally constructed with thick (two-inch) stretcher bars and high quality canvas or fine linen. As should be expected from such acclaimed painters, their work viewed from all angles has a professional and finished quality in terms of construction and craftsmanship, even though their painting techniques may appear haphazard and rapid.
In their techniques, each artist uses numerous layers of thin washes. This creates an illusion of depth on the flat plane of the canvas, providing both strong and subtle fluctuations and variations in the paint, creating complexities in the overall completion of the painting. This gives the effect that the canvas is a window to a stage, even though the paintings still contain abstract elements. In a sense, their work combines the flatness of early abstract art with the three dimensional illusion of pre-impressionist art:
With respect to the artistic experience, however, their works differ. While Richter comments on current politics, corruption, and warfare, Ritchie explores the nature of human existence.
Richter’s work provides a critical view of world powers, making statements about world leaders…
…while Ritchie’s work has a more organic feel, asking questions and trying to make sense out of life:
As a whole, I thought Richter’s paintings were more interesting than Ritchie’s. This was not because of the subject matter. And as described in my last post, the paintings were not entirely impressive. But it was because, for the most part, Richter’s application of layers created more complexities and subtleties in the paint. And when viewing the paintings as a group, Richter’s provided more of a sense that each painting was unique, whereas Ritchie’s paintings felt that, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
But while Richter only exhibited paintings, Ritchie’s exhibition differed in a positive way by incorporating different media, unifying painting, sculpture, animation, and installation in creating an entire environment within the exhibition space. The ambiguity of Ritchie’s work, his motivation and ideas, served to be more thought-provoking and prompt more questions than some of the spoon-fed statements of Richter.
For these reasons, I cannot say that I enjoyed Richter’s exhibition more than Ritchie’s. Each exhibition was an inspirational artistic experience, with aspects to embrace and some to reject.
Thanks for reading. Hope you're enjoying the reviews, paintings, creations, sculpture, drawings, works in progress, Doodle of the Day, and other art by Los Angeles artist Lucas Aardvark Novak :) To see older blog posts click HERE.