"I still think the social function of art is that kind of negative aesthetic. Otherwise there’s no social function for it."
Matthew Ritchie was born in London, England, in 1964, and lives and works in New York. He received a BFA from Camberwell School of Art, London, and attended Boston University. His artistic mission has been no less ambitious than an attempt to represent the entire universe and the structures of knowledge and belief that we use to understand and visualize it. Ritchie’s encyclopedic project (continually expanding and evolving, like the universe itself) stems from his imagination, and is catalogued in a conceptual chart replete with allusions drawn from Judeo-Christian religion, occult practices, Gnostic traditions, and scientific elements and principles. Ritchie’s paintings, installations, and narrative threads delineate the universe’s formation as well as the attempts and limits of human consciousness to comprehend its vastness. Ritchie’s work deals explicitly with the idea of information being “on the surface,” and information is also the subject of his work. Although often described as a painter, Ritchie creates works on paper, prints, light-box drawings, floor-to-wall installations, freestanding sculpture, websites, and short stories, which tie his sprawling works together into a narrative structure. Drawing is central to his work. He scans his drawings into the computer so that images can be enlarged, taken apart, made smaller or three-dimensional, reshaped, transformed into digital games, or given to someone else to execute. One ongoing work that Ritchie calls “an endless drawing” contains everything he has drawn before. Ritchie’s work has been shown in one-person exhibitions at Dallas Museum of Art; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; among others. His work was also exhibited at the Whitney Biennial (1997), Sydney Biennale (2002), and Bienal de São Paulo (2004).