How do Matthew Ritchie’s art pieces The Dead: Belphegor and Proposition Player differ from one another?

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epic-art-time | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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The most obvious way in which these two pieces differ from one another is in medium and scale.  Proposition Player is a huge installation exhibition originally designed for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.  The installation contains drawings, paintings, and projected images that fill the entire space. Parts of the exhibition are present on the floors, on the walls, suspended above the floor, and on various interactive pieces throughout the space.  It is one of those really massive pieces of art, and rightly so, because, Matthew Ritchie is trying to create his own manifestation of the entire universe.

The Dead: Belphegor, on the other hand, is only one drawing that measures 54 x 36 inches.  It is not a small piece, but in terms of scale it is nothing compared to Proposition Player. It is made with ink and graphite on a type of plastic called Denril.  Some of the pieces in Proposition Player contain similar imagery: swirls of yellow and brown ink, and protruding eyeballs that appear to be growths of some sort; but the main difference between the two is the presence of the figure.

After he was done creating the massive Proposition Player, Ritchie felt that the next logical step was to move to figuration.  There were some figurative elements in Proposition Player, but the pieces in his next body of work, which includes The Dead: Belphegor, contain figures that are much more recognizable.  He felt that to make sense of his ideas about the universe, the next logical step was to give them a body, so he could portray them doing things that his viewers could understand.

In Proposition Player there is an interactive element that The Dead: Belphegor definitely does not have.  The viewers of Proposition Player were totally immersed in the space, walking around it, looking in all directions at it, and participating in games that were part of it.  This was all done with the intention of simulating the universe and making the viewer think of the role they play in it.

To see parts of Proposition Player and other works by Matthew Ritchie go to the PBS Art 21 page below.  He is the first artist interviewed after the introductory segment. .

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