Charlotte Neel Rittos new series of paintings is inspired by places where great tragedies have taken place. She simply painted exactly the places or houses where the act of crime – scenes of gruesome incidents have occurred or were planned. There is an interesting dichotomy here: She has been inspired by a cruel incident, but she has set out to paint the scene as dispassionately as possible. How does that work?

In Rittos immediate background, originally stemming from a different tradition than the traditional way of art school and gallery exhibitions, it does not seem natural to take an interest in mass murderers and child abuse. She has always wanted something other than what she originally was trained for and thought for a long time that it was in the writing she was the best. But seven years ago she began to paint and since then it has been a full-time job for her.

Rittos work closely resembles that of the forensic: She does a lot of research about the case while asking questions about how the situation could come about- how can a person get so far out that he kills or mistreat children for years? Next step is to photograph a picture in the paper or online that best tells the story of the tragedy. But it is not the victim and pictures of the victim that fascinates her. It is the setting for the gruesome events instead. It is the house, the church or the room that is being painted. Rather than the victims perspective she is concerned with what is going on in the offenders head: “It amazes me. Actually, I’m mostly interested in the offender… “and if we are talking about a gender aspect in the bestial appetites, then it might be the same kind of cynicism she will connect to when she in the final stages of painting cool outweighs the instruments to each other. What drastic act needs to be done to achieve the goal of painting?

Charlotte Ritto also chooses the dispassionate recording of place, considering that it is just a place where something cruel had happened. Yet we know that a sinister atmosphere hangs on. A house in which one or more murders has been committed and / or abuse taken place takes “color” of the grisly events. The strange thing is that it is not only people with spiritual interests who believe that such a house is bad news … Tragedies seem to be sticking to the bricks, to the place. In the Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s book  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, one such house – The house of the hanged – is the heart of the story. No one will live there anymore and eventually it is being torn down.

Rittos paintings are always figurative and there is a clear sense of abandonment in her paintings. People have left the stage and only the empty house remains as the backdrop for a once lived life. A melancholic tone seeps into the mind and loneliness is pouring out of every crevice. The colors are unlike the artists she most compares to, for example the Leipzigschool, much higher in tone. Ritto throw herself fearlessly into violent clashes and drags the works home without major scars on the soul. It gives the paintings a freshness that is in harsh contrast to the serious themes they orbit. Which leads to another idol, Louise Bourgeois. For it is the same rebellion against the neatness and constraints in a women’s life that drives Ritto forward. It is her primary concern to be forceful and potent. But as she says, it’s also fine to have a softer side with her.


Christina Wilson, 2012
Art historian

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