Favorite

Sleepwalking in the Suburbs 

An artist awakens after years of practice looking.

Ritchie’s small (often no larger than a postcard) paintings and prints developed from his journals are detailed to a mysterious degree, with little trace of the artist’s hand. But the artist clearly does not intend to work as a photo realist. As he states, the pictures only begin with a scene. They quickly move into something deeper, more complex.

Ritchie’s subjects, usually observations of his domestic environment in suburban Maryland, provide a surprisingly dense source of lyrical imagery. Working in his studio before sunrise (he’s a full-time curatorial staff member at the National Gallery of Art), he observes the visual phenomena during morning’s darkness and the new day’s unveiling. Having discovered a sort of witching hour when familiar objects seem to possess a life of their own, the artist feeds on the strangeness of light and how it deceives our understanding of the visual world.

Years of observation have given Ritchie the ability to capture the illusion of time via light. His convincing portrayal of the darkness and shadow that falls on his objects, quivering across his pages as if the light source is moving, serves him formally and conceptually. By describing so much of what is before our eyes and in our memories, Ritchie reminds us that pause is more than a button on our remote.

The inclusion of Ritchie’s journals in this show not only provides an intimate look at the artist’s daily intake of his environment and an understanding of where his images begin. The journals also demonstrate how maturity and experience cause vision to shift and images to adapt. The exhibition begins with Ritchie’s disciplined, highly detailed rendering “Rocking Chair,” made in 1983, but in later images looser and simpler pictures emerge.

The allure of “Suburban Journals” isn’t so much Ritchie’s mastery of his media, though it certainly acts as a big hook. His scrupulous attention to detail has more to do with attention than detail, as in “Attention! Wake Up!” The big draw of “Suburban Journals” is that it is a very appealing alarm clock. S

Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

  • Re: InLight Richmond Announces 2017 Location

    • Hello all viewer online herpes has cure but doctor said herpes has no cure until…

    • on July 26, 2017
  • Re: InLight Richmond Announces 2017 Location

    • Hello all viewer online herpes has cure but doctor said herpes has no cure until…

    • on July 26, 2017
  • Re: Architecture Review: The New Maggie Walker Statue Took Awhile, but Should Become a Much-Needed Oasis

    • I agree and have been there three times already. My only criticism is there is…

    • on July 24, 2017
  • More »
  • More by Paulette Roberts-Pullen

    • A Crafty Hand

      A Crafty Hand

      November Gallery exhibit reminds of Nancy Witt's enigmatic genius.
      • Mar 9, 2011
    • The Evolution of Mann

      The Evolution of Mann

      New exhibits chart Lexington photographer's unflinching gaze.
      • Nov 17, 2010
    • The Handmade's Tale

      The Handmade's Tale

      “Limited Reading Required” turns the page on books as art.
      • Oct 20, 2010
    • More »

    Copyright © 2017 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation