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Matthew Ritchie at Andrea Rosen
Life sometimes seems unbearably complex, and today's information overload can lead to strange distortions. Rather than succumbing to a feeling of alienation that might accompany the confusion, however, English-born New York artist Matthew Ritchie finds solace in life's intricacies. His abstract paintings, wall drawings and 3-D "painting-objects" are crammed full of signs and symbols, like roadmaps to an alternate universe.
Ritchie once described his work as the result of an attempt to transform energy into matter. In this show, titled "Parents and Children," he combined laws of physics, biology, optics, mythology and chance procedures in a surprisingly convincing demonstration of this improbable transformation.
One approached the installation as a player in a 3-D computer game. The colorful canvases and wall paintings featured images and texts presented as a kind of patchwork quilt or as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. You might hope to find a code or a key that might unravel the mysteries of his implied narratives; and the artist has provided such a guide in the past. But that was not quite the aim of the show. The excitement of Ritchie's art has to do with its emphasis on pursuit and exploration rather than on discovery and revelation.
A prerequisite for seeing the exhibition might be a visit to Ritchie's entertaining Web site: http://adaweb.walkerart.org/influx/hardway/. Here, visitors are invited to join the cast of characters that people Ritchie's wildly imaginative domain.
Matthew Ritchie, "Parents and Children," Oct. 21-Nov. 25, at Andrea Rosen, 525 West 24 Street, New York, N.Y. 10011.