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The Frist Art Museum presents a survey of the careers and new works of renowned transmedia artist Matthew Ritchie

Matthew Ritchie: A garden under the flood November 11th2022–March 5, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn., October 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Frist Art Museum Presents Matthew Ritchie: A garden under the flood, a thematic survey of the artist’s work since 2000, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and videos. Organized by the Frist Art Museum, the exhibition will be presented in the upper galleries of the November 11, 2022 through March 52023.

Matthew Ritchie is an internationally renowned artist who has exhibited in major museums around the world, including the Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art; his works were also featured in the 2018 exhibition Frist Art Museum Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century. A pioneer in the integration of disciplines and the combination of mediums, Ritchie has created deeply symbolic and dynamic installations that often involve architects, dancers, musicians and other creatives. “This exhibition is ideal for a creative city like Nashvillewith its rooted and enduring tradition of interdisciplinary artistic collaborations,” said the chief curator of the Frist Art Museum Marc Scala. In a recording that serves as the soundtrack for the exhibition and accompanies Ritchie’s new film TelmunGrammy Award winner Fisk Jubilee Singers perform music specially commissioned by the famous composer Hanna Ben.

“Ritchie’s works show inner and outer space converging in views of black holes and particle clouds, organic mutations and human fantasies, sacred music and scorched cityscapes,” Scala said. Bursting with luminous colors, surreal shapes and evocative symbols, they are efforts to visualize the deep human desire to develop “theories of everything” in fields as diverse as literature, mythology, philosophy, science and technology.

Although his attempts to portray abstract and invisible forces are often rooted in complex theory, Ritchie’s art can be appreciated on a strictly aesthetic level. He writes: “Information is itself a material, just like painting, music or cinema. All my works can be fully experienced without reading a single text. But like the tales of Scheherazade in Thousand and one Nightor a multiverse like the Marvel Universe, there are stories within stories here, if you choose to explore them.”

A garden under the flood begins with a selection of paintings from across Ritchie’s career, including M-theory (2000), The Eighth Sea (2002), and morning war (2008), which introduce his visual vocabulary of twisting and dissolving shapes and figures, dramatic compositions, diagrams and pictographs. This imagery then unfolds in architectural structures such as The Dawn Line (Weather Eye Variant) (2022), expansive wall drawings and hallucinatory animations, some formed using artificial intelligence.

Themes of garden and flood are woven throughout Ritchie’s work, paired symbols that evoke opposites such as harmony and chaos or the known and the mysterious. “While the garden may be a simulation of paradise, the flood may represent the submergence of civilization by the forces of nature, a fundamental myth told in many cultures around the world,” Scala said. “In this exhibition, the interchangeable metaphor extends to a broad view of history and culture, the overwhelming impact of technology, and the challenges and promises of an unknowable future.”

A large ten-channel multimedia installation titled Arguments includes ten loosely connected films that Ritchie created between the early 2000s and present. The title refers to by John Milton lost paradise, in which each book begins with a philosophical premise or statement called an “argument”. “The films take us on a journey through time, hovering and diving through scenes of fires and floods, riots and ruins, microscopic and macrocosmic worlds,” Scala said. “The loss of paradise becomes a meditation on what we are losing now and, ultimately, what we can gain by shaping the future.”

The most recent film, commissioned for this exhibition, is entitled Telmun (2022) in reference to a location near the Persian Gulf once believed to be the site of the Garden of Eden. It features the musical composition “A Garden in the Flood” by the composer, singer and collaborator spanning all genres Hanna Ben. The piece was performed for the film by the Fisk Jubilee Singers and their late director Dr. Paul T. Kwami, internationally recognized for their repertoire of gospel and black spirituals. Ritchie wrote the lyrics and visuals include images of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, diagrams from WEB At DuBois data portraits and other fluid abstractions.

Programs such as Frist’s Connecting Disciplines series, in which community experts speak about art in the context of specialist areas such as artificial intelligence, choral music, history and quantum physics, will bring visitors discover the exhibition through new and surprising perspectives.

Exhibit Credit

Organized by the First Art Museum

Thank you supporters

This project is supported in part by the National Foundation for the Arts.

Supported in part by the Sandra Schatten Foundation

With additional support from our Picasso Circle

The Frist Art Museum is supported in part by the Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Connect with us @FristArtMuseum #LeFrist #FristMatthewRitchie

About the first art museum

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibit center dedicated to presenting and creating high-quality exhibits with programs related educational and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual arts from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibits that inspire people through art to look at their world in a new way. Accessibility information is available at Admission to the gallery is free for visitors 18 and under and for members, and $15 for adults. For current hours and additional information, visit or call 615.244.3340.

SOURCE First Art Museum