Matthew Ritchie - Contemporary Art Part I New York Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Basilico Fine Arts, New York; Private collection, USA

  • Exhibited

    New York, Basilico Fine Arts, Matthew Ritchie: The Hard Way, Chapter II, October 19 – November 23, 1996

  • Literature

    Galerie Meteo, ed., Matthew Ritchie The Hard Way, Paris, 1996, p. 17 (illustrated); L. M. Herbert, Matthew Ritchie Proposition Player, Ostfildern-Ruit / New York, 2003, p. 115 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Matthew Ritchie transcends traditionally received creative boundaries in works such as the present lot, Trouble in Mind, 1996. Recalling in its composition, shapes and symmetries prototypical to landscape paintings, although perhaps after having been tumbled across the rocks of Dali’s hallucinatory environments, and spending a moment exulting on the spare planes and axes of geometric minimalism, it is difficult to resist the temptation to read narrative into the work. On levels, micro as well as macro, the suggestiveness continues, yielding a result singularly cognizant of the multi-faceted interpretation contemporary two-dimensional works present. Not precisely geometric, and by no means fractal—part of Ritchie’s distinctiveness resides in his ability to at once reject the organic at a basic visual level while still somehow emoting an organic interpretation of things natural—the work retains a technical, illustrative feel, as if the offspring of an architectural draftsman sidelining as a painter.

    Alternatively, Ritchie’s works might be considered as granting us a window onto the dreamiest capacity of a once-exceptional machine whose prime has passed—we’ve managed lately to endow computers with the ability to fool our eyes completely, simulating reality to a hyper-perfected degree that as a matter of course sacrifices much of the romance inherent in creative products. It is paintings such as the present lot that remind us of the truly limitless potential of fantastic vision and visceral, technical skill, presenting work that inch by inch appears purposefully mechanical but it too reads as phantasmagoric. We are treated, finally, to the vision of a man imagining the imaginations of something imagined—the technical illustrator carefully painting the canvases of his fictional, creatively inclined robot.

    Like a Rorschach diagram, Ritchie’s works suggest different things to different people, and even various things to the same individuals on different occasions. On one viewing the work appears intra-cellular, like a culture between glass on a for a microscope’s slide; upon another the same work presents as voluminous, expansively marine. Is it perspective, trompe l’oeil atmosphere, or a brilliant graphic description concerned with the expression of flatness? Putting its vibrancy and action to use, the present lot was presented as a component of Ritchie’s The Hard Way, Chapter II show at Basilico Fine Arts during the Fall of 1996—the fourth stop on the tour of the artist’s visual depiction of a wholly invented cosmology. Whether considered a virtual panorama or subcutaneous close-up, Trouble in Mind is an exciting example of the ongoing dialogue between classical creative means and contemporary reality.


Trouble in Mind

Oil and marker on canvas.
92 x 120 in. (233.7 x 304.8 cm).

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $216,000

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York