Jason Haam is pleased to present Charles Ritchie: Welcome to Suburbia, the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The show offers a survey of Ritchie’s drawings—with the earliest completed in 1984 and the most recent finished in the current year.
The works on view are representative of the broad variety of drawing media used by the artist, from his primary medium—watercolour—to graphite, pen and ink, gouache, crayon, lithographic crayon, and charcoal. With a range of images spanning Ritchie’s 35-year career, the exhibition teems with observations and interactions extending from one man's sustained probing of solitary experience.
The title of the exhibition, Charles Ritchie: Welcome to Suburbia, acts a literal invitation to the gallery space as well as a nuanced overture for the audience to immerse themselves in the intimate, yet immense universe of Ritchie’s private world. The details found within his works approach the hypnotic, pulling the viewer close to the drawing's surface and slowing—almost suspending the movement of time.
Working in tandem with nature’s rhythms, Ritchie alternates between groups of drawings seasonally—with individual sheets often taking years to complete. Building up layers of pigment and paper and breaking them back down with erasures and revisions—this lengthy process allows his works to gestate and mature slowly. The topography of the paper evolves over extended periods with traces of his process left in strata, the physical surface of the work.
Many of the drawings contain the artist’s minute, private script, inscrutable to most viewers but legible to the artist—notations that primarily record his dreams. By interweaving dream inscriptions with images of the everyday world, parallel universes of interior and exterior offer passages for self-reflection.
These scenes of suburbia and their highly distinctive visual details allow just enough context to give the viewer a sense of familiarity with the environments. Yet, their stark ambiance and gentle watercolour washes have a veiling effect—creating a subtlety and mystery that appears to balance just beneath the surface of the work. Revealing by way of concealing, Ritchie beckons the viewer to join him in his attempt—to see how far I can go in a single place.
Born in Pineville, Kentucky, Charles Ritchie received his BFA in graphic design at the University of Georgia in 1977 and his MFA in painting at Carnegie Mellon University in 1980. His works are included in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; and more.
Ritchie lives and works in Silver Spring, MD.