Drawings and Journals
BravinLee programs is very pleased to present our third exhibition of work by Charles Ritchie. BravinLee first learned of Charles Ritchie’s astonishing work in 2007 on the website of the art collector Mickey Cartin. www.cartincollection.com
Blake Gopnik wrote about Charles Ritchie’s work in the Washington Post (11/22/09):
“His observation is so evenhanded that he manages to strike a perfect balance between the outside seen through the glass and the domestic interior reflected in it. It's nature's own double exposure, caught without the help of film.”
Holland Cotter lauded Ritchie’s Journals in the New York Times (6/1/2007):
“Each small book is filled with marvelous watercolors and all but indecipherable writing. Mr. Ritchie has been making such books for 30 years. They are extraordinary”
Charles Ritchie’s exterior subjects, the plots of grass, trees and foliage, streetlights, shadows, reflections and neighboring homes are mostly seen in the dark or in early morning light. They suggest surveillance; perhaps Spielberg’s suburban poetics or the menacing banality of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. However, the figure is generally no more than implied, and if you have a dark imagination you may assume Peter Lorre or the milkman is lurking in the shadows.
Ritchie is far more matter of fact in this artist statement:
Since 1985 I have been drawing from the same window, observing the evolution of a limited group of subjects. Night often permeates my images, comingling the streetscape with the reflection of my studio. I am intrigued with the merging of interior and exterior spaces and the associations that arise. Yet, the pictures begin with the scene and aim to move deeper, beyond what is seen. Often the invisible is what is most evocative and by offering the viewer a context in which essential details are obscured, I leave things open to interpretation. Night is engaged for its obscuring qualities.
My drawings are constructed over extended periods; months, even years. Darks are usually mixed from other colors, not black, as a means of keeping warm and cool tonalities in flux. Recently, I have been studying closely the colors of night and have broadened my palette to include even more hues.
Variation in size, shape, edge, surface, and technique are critical issues for me. At any one time I am developing many drawings and I often work them for years by building up layers of pigment and paper and breaking them back down with erasures and revisions. The surfaces evolve over these extended periods leaving pentimenti, a history of growth.
While relying on watercolor as a primary medium, some recent works are created in graphite alone or in combination with conté crayon. These friable media allow me to create tone via the slow accretion of line and offer options for easy erasure. With these new approaches, I find myself venturing towards the obscuring effects of daylight as well as night.
After years of scrutiny my subjects have continually accrued greater meaning and mystery for me. As I evolve with them I aim to come to deeper levels of awareness and to more fully interpret the magic and mystery behind the surface of things.
Charles Ritchie, 2012, Silver Spring MD
In 2011 Ritchie’s one person exhibition at Gallery Joe in Philadelphia traveled to The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL and in 2009 his work was the subject of a focus exhibition with The Cartin Collection @ Ars Libri, Boston, MA. In 2008 Ritchie’s work was featured in “From the Inside Looking Out: The Journals, Drawings and Prints of Charles Ritchie,” at The Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Recent group exhibitions include “Watercolors” at Phillips de Pury & Co., New York, “Falling Through Space Drawn by the Line,” University of Buffalo Art Gallery,” in Buffalo, and “The Fifth Genre: Considering 21st Century Still Life,” Galerie Lelong, New York. The artist’s work is held in an extensive list of museum and private collections.