I Had No Idea

April 17, 2012

“I Had No Idea” | ink on clayboard | 6 x 6 inches | © 2012 Darick Ritter

Art is a cryptogram.

In my art, I apply each of my marks as a piece to a puzzle that is “read” and “decoded” when you see them together and interpret what is made. I can make one mark the contour of a “head”, or “hand”, or as part of a pattern that stretches across a background. Although, for us to agree about what is being depicted is a tricky enterprise. This is because most people don’t carry around the same conventions or dictionaries inside their heads. Our definitions tend to diverge in many places.

For instance, my “head” could be seen as your “ball” because my descriptive abilities could be lacking and/or you could come from a cultural background where soccer balls are branded with two small circular shapes on the front of the ball, instead of a pattern of pentagons (ok, maybe not a great example – what thing with eyes isn’t a head?)…

This place where you puzzle out the actors and objects on the surface of my pictures is what has bothered me for years because it’s the handoff of meaning between me to you. I’ve never really trusted that what is being said is what is being heard…

Will you read my intentions correctly?


Will you inject meaning into places I never intended?

Most definitely.

The possibilities for error, misjudgment, and miscommunication are endless and that is what this series is about: that you as a viewer manage much more of the meaning of a picture than I can hope to control.

And in an atmosphere of misunderstanding it’s difficult – if not impossible – to sacrifice a smidgen of poetry for elucidating prose.

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