Thursday, February 2, 2012

Matthew Ritchie v. Daniel Richter: A Review (Part 1 of 3)

In recent weeks, two well-known painters of the international art scene exhibited their work in Los Angeles: Matthew Ritchie and Daniel Richter. Each is an acclaimed contemporary artist (and relatively young) who prices his paintings for over $100,000. While monetary value is not an indicator of good quality and taste (as demonstrated by Damien Hirst’s “spot” paintings currently at Gagosian galleries), both Richter’s and Ritchie’s names can be found in almost every contemporary art book. They are among the so-called leaders of the international contemporary art scene. So, given the opportunity to see their work in person, within a span of just a couple weeks, I was able to review what they are currently creating, and compare and contrast their work-product and styles...

Matthew Ritchie at L&M Arts, Venice, Los Angeles:
A combination of painting, sculpture, animation, and installation, Ritchie’s exhibition was installed in two rooms: the west room displaying 8 paintings and a sculpture under standard lighting; the east room with 4 paintings and a sculpture, dimly lit to allow for projections of animations within the floor and wall installations.

In the west room, each oil painting was about 8 feet tall by 5 feet wide on fine woven linen, abstract elements hinting at realistic elements like angel wings and biomorphic shapes:

Each painting had numerous layers of very thin washes and glazes. Flecks of paint perhaps sprayed using his finger on a toothbrush:

The paintings all had a clean surface, uniform flat texture and professional appearance, but as individual works of art they lacked a sense of uniqueness or individuality. Each painting seemed to be a clone of the one next to it, a disappointing characteristic of the artistic experience and contrary to his biomorph motif – it causes you to feel that if you've seen one, you’ve seen them all. The paintings made me imagine Ritchie treating his studio like an assembly line – lining up a bunch of canvases, using the same palette of colors and process to fill them up, just enough to satisfy the wall space in the two rooms at the gallery.

On the other hand, the east room displayed Ritchie’s combination of different media. Whereas the focus in the west room was the paintings, the hierarchy for the viewers’ attention in the east room was unclear – the projections and installation were as important, if not more important, than the paintings. The room was a unified artistic experience of various methods of communication, as if walking into Ritchie’s world to see what he sees, rather than moving from one stand-alone clone to the next.

The following 1 minute video shows a glance of the east room experience:

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, a comparison of Ritchie’s exhibition to Daniel Richter’s exhibition currently at Regen Projects in Los Angeles.

Thank you for following the reviews, paintings, creations, sculpture, drawings, works in progress, Doodle of the Day, and other art by Los Angeles artist Lucas Aardvark :) To see older blog posts click HERE.

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