Charles Ritchie Feature

[ARTICLE] Jason Haam

Charles Ritchie Feature

Charles Ritchie depicts scenes of interior and exterior landscapes, found within and outside his home. The artist’s ceaseless observations and reflections—of light, of changing seasons, of thoughts, and of dreams—are integrated onto a palm-sized piece of paper. Containing feelings of affection and warmth towards familiar spaces, Ritchie’s works are like repositories of memories, where various transformations of thought remain.

Charles Ritchie, Landscape with Four Lights, 2011-2017, watercolor and graphite on Fabriano paper, 10.2 x 15.2 cm, © Charles Ritchie, Courtesy of the artist and Jason Haam

Ritchie begins his drawings by creating impressions in his sketchbook. Details are added and colored in through many stages over the years, corresponding to the seasonal changes depicted in his works. ‘Landscape with Four Lights’ (2011-2017), took almost six years to complete. Embodying the artist’s unique process, the first state of the work was completed in 2012, expressing the flow of light with watercolors in a meticulous sketch. In 2015, more colors were added and detailed features, such as houses and trees appeared. In the third state of the work, dark shades of detail, such as branches and shadows were added, and in 2017, the contrast of colors were emphasized, completing the work. The artist’s interest and efforts in the exploration of light are brilliantly expressed through the juxtaposition of the artist’s technique and the portrayal of light, which is achieved without the use of white paint.

Journal Study for Landscape with Four Lights, 24 December 2012, from Book 137, Late Fall 2012 / Early Spring 2013, Courtesy of the artist

Landscape with Four Lights [first state]; 27 December 2012, Courtesy of the artist
Landscape with Four Lights [first state]; 27 December 2012, Courtesy of the artist
Landscape with Four Lights [third state]; 23 December 2015; Courtesy of the artist
 

Over the past decades, Charles Ritchie has recorded over 150 journals containing fragmentary thoughts to countless sketches. These journals play a significant part in Ritchie’s creative process, as many of his works begin from these sketches. This process is similar to that of Joseph Mallord William Turner, who also had a lifelong habit of sketching landscapes. Turner left more than 200 sketchbooks in his lifetime, going on trips in the Summer to sketch and completing these works after returning home in the Winter. These sketches reveal how the artist views the world and how he constantly researches and studies different modes of visual representation.

Photograph of the artist’s journals, Book 123 through Book 132, 2004-2009, The foreground journal is open to a study for ‘Self-Portrait with Night’, Courtesy of the artist

The composition of objects in Charles Ritchie’s works correspond to the way objects are drawn and placed in the traditional still life—comparable to that of the works of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. Ritchie shares Morandi’s artistic attitude of pursuing the essence beyond objects.

Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1957, Oil on canvas
Two page spread from Book 131 featuring sketches after oil paintings by Giorgio Morandi, 2009, Courtesy of the artist

The objects found in Ritchie’s compositions aren’t traditional symbols, but are rather personal symbols and memories found in his own life—such as the vase associated with his daughter’s birth and a hat decoration from a Halloween party that was added to the dining room lamp. The artist records scenes within his home and naturally captures its changes over time and his works present an opportunity to explore the artist’s personal history.

Studio Views, Courtesy of the artist
Charles Ritchie, Astronomical Chart with Bowl and Fan, 2004-2017, watercolor, graphite, and pen and ink on Fabriano paper, 11.7 x 14.6 cm, © Charles Ritchie, Courtesy of the artist and Jason Haam

From astronomical maps to planet objects, Charles Ritchie’s home is full of objects related to the cosmos. This concept of ‘universe in the home’ is captured in his works as the artist portrays interior scenes in and around his house. Ritchie’s interest in the universe deepened the level of his understanding and introspection of the world. In one work, Ritchie depicts charts representing Ptolemaic and Copernican models, which are hung side by side with a large window in between—revealing the artist’s interest in perspective. The artist observes and documents the intimate world around him, as if observing the sky with a telescope or experimenting with reflections. The exceptionally small scale of his work emphasizes and illuminates the large physical world in which we live in and presents new ways of seeing the world.

Studio Views, Courtesy of the artist
Charles Ritchie, Star Map with Five Drawings I, 2012-2017, watercolor and graphite on Fabriano paper, 10.8 x 15.2 cm, © Charles Ritchie, Courtesy of the artist and Jason Haam

Jason Haam
73, Seongbuk-ro 31-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, Korea
+82 70 4477 7880

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