Opening April 10, 2004, MASS MoCA presents “Matthew Ritchie: Proposition Player”, the first major museum exhibition of this multimedia artist’s work organized by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Featuring an installation of new works by Ritchie, the exhibition includes enormous new pieces dramatically suited to MASS MoCA’s soaring Tall Gallery on the first floor as well as a selection of painting, drawings, and light boxes, which Ritchie is well-known for. Ritchie’s complex and imaginary story of the history of the universe is told through monumental wall drawings, expansive sculptural installations, and beautiful digital animations. “Matthew plies the full spectrum,” said Joseph Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA, “his project is immense in scale, and yet intricately detailed, vast in theme and yet sharply and consistently rendered, insisting on certain forms of logic, lithe as they may be.”
Matthew Ritchie explores a self-created cosmological system through his work – an endless and complex landscape where various ideas and concepts can coexist. He draws upon a vocabulary of scientific notations, cartoon characters, mythology, biblical tales and pulp fiction to illustrate the workings of his alternate universe. At the core of Ritchie’s art is “information,” a sort of raw material from which all of his work evolves, as it is mapped and diagrammed through his own systems of color, line, paint, metal and light. Through Ritchie’s sweeping and incredibly detailed creations, viewers are engaged in his metaphorical search to determine man’s place in the cosmos.
Ritchie’s works “The Fast Set”, a light box, and Stacked, a large complex drawing, that are both diagrammatic illustrations for his evolving, intricately wrought narrative about the Big Bang and the origins of the universe, were exhibited at MASS MoCA as part of “Unnatural Science” in 2000.
“Matthew Ritchie: Proposition Player” is the most ambitious installment to date in the artist’s ongoing narrative, and with it his work has reached a pivotal point where his version of the evolution of the universe is now laid out in its entirety. As such, it has taken on a new life and revealed itself to be as much a game as a story. The large spaces available at MASS MoCA – and Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, which organized the exhibition and presented it in a slightly different form, enabled Ritchie to think and work on a grander scale than had heretofore been possible.
Among the most remarkable works is the one that lends its name to the exhibition, “Proposition Player” (2003), a unique game in which viewers throw dice on an interactive digital craps table to determine the history of the universe. As the game is played, animations are projected onto the table and a screen positioned on an adjacent wall. Throughout the game, various adjacent sculptural works are highlighted and visually referenced, depending on the choices made by the player. These sculptural works include “The God Impersonator” (2003), an enormous rubber floor mosaic that allows viewers to walk into the heart of the piece and a deck of cards featuring Ritchie’s cast of characters; “The Fine Constant” (2003), a one-hundred foot long, map of the universe that literally comes off the wall winding around the viewer; and new characters in the form of sculpted heads which have been created by the artist in collaboration with schoolchildren.
Matthew Ritchie was born in 1964 in London, England. He attended Boston University in 1982 and received his B.F.A. from the Camberwell School of Art, London, in 1986. He has had recent solo exhibitions at c/o Atle Gerhardsen, Berlin (2003); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2002); White Cube, London; and the Dallas Museum of Art (2001). His work has been included in group exhibitions such as (The World May Be) Fantastic, Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2002); Sprawl, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (2002); Urgent Painting, LARC/Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris (2002) and Drawing Now: Eight Propositions, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA QNS), New York (2002). Ritchie lives and works in New York City.
“Matthew Ritchie: Proposition Player” is accompanied by a 136-page fully-illustrated catalogue published by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in association with Hatje Cantz Publishers, Germany. It contains essays by MASS MoCA Curator Laura Steward Heon; Lynn Herbert, senior curator at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Jennelle Porter, an independent curator and writer. The catalogue also includes an interview with the artist by writer Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, a checklist of the exhibition and documentation on the artist’s career.
“Proposition Player at MASS MoCA” is made possible in part by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and Holly Angell Hardman. Ritchie’s work God Impersonator is in collaboration with Fabric Workshop. [From press release]
News courtesy of White Cubes