An acutely disturbed state of mind that occurs in fever, intoxication, and other disorders and is characterized by restlessness, illusions, and incoherence of thought and speech.
Characters desperately struggle in the extremity of desire where pursuit and fulfillment have left them in flux between reality and fantasy. Nathan Ritterpusch’s exhibition of new paintings, titled de-lir-i-um, offers mysterious portrayals of people under duress from their quests for pleasure and longing for something more. These expeditions for unknown forbidden fruits, both culminating and satisfied, haunt and mystify Ritterpusch’s figures. They tussle through surreal manifestations of their yearnings across planes that are sometimes fragmentary and abstract and at other times grounded and shrewdly subtle.
In Transceiver (2008) these notions cling together in a patchwork of visions devoid of concrete space. Various figures drift through collaged frames strung together by an array of ecstatic colors and patterns. Combined with symbols charged with personal meaning, these amalgams spawn kinetic associations and create new contexts that set the stage for open-ended interpretation. Non-linear narratives emerge giving light to themes both paradoxically intimate and universal. Ritterpusch scavenges pictorial elements from vintage magazines and films while he completely imagines others. He derives additional inspiration from photo sessions where he works with models to capture a range of poses to work from in the future.
Protagonists in some of the artist’s paintings find themselves rendered within more tangible environments. Kneeling in a trance, a young woman has a look of eerie epiphany in The Interpreter (2008). The space around her is stark and alienating. Delicate clues teetering on the edge of the painting hint at phantoms that trouble this woman from just outside our field of vision. In this depiction as well as in the scene played out in Meeting (2008-09), where two female figures appear paused in a moment thick with emotion, a sense of staged tragedy is palpable. The characters seem caught in cinematic frames, as though they are actors dramatizing human emotion and interaction. Their gestures appear intentionally posed, emphasizing the display of a prescribed human condition.
In this series Ritterpusch has reached a new plateau, refining his trademark painting methods and cultivating his skill as a crafter of narrative. His hallucinatory painting technique, which imparts an undulating sensation to all his canvases, achieves an invigorating balance that acts as an omnipresent yet subtle bond. The new works convey a mature and decisive use of color that is accentuated by a bold use of mark making. Leaving visible the immediacy of his brushstrokes, Ritterpusch displays a confidence that is freeing and self-forming. Ultimately, de-lir-i-um is a culmination of this artist’s ever-defining visual language that is acutely in tune with the driving psychological forces behind his inspirations.
This is Ritterpusch’s second solo show at RARE. In 2007, he participated in a drawing show at Galerie Burkhard Eikelmann in Dusseldorf, a group painting exhibition at Galerie Romerapotheke in Zurich, and a residency at Prague’s Karlin Studios, which was followed by an exhibition at Futura Gallery also in Prague. Ritterpusch made his European solo debut at Galerie Burkhard Eikelmann in Dusseldorf in the spring of 2008. In late 2009 he will have a one-person exhibition at Galerie Nordine Zidoun in Luxembourg; in 2010 he will make his solo bow at Galerie Motte et Rouart in Paris.