The Chazan Gallery at Wheeler is pleased to present Shaping the Idea, a solo exhibition featuring the work of Richard Whitten, from January 18 to February 07, 2018.  There will be an opening reception for the artists on January 18, from 5:00 - 7:00. The public is invited.

Richard Whitten,123 Fold, 2017


This exhibition examines the two major themes that have inspired Richard Whitten’s recent paintings: invented machines incorporated into invented architectural space, and the conception of the painting itself as a game. The two themes are of personal importance, or “fascination”, as the artist puts it, and these paintings are a vehicle for sharing these interests with a viewer.

Whitten is drawn to antique toys, mechanical devices and scientific instruments – particularly those that involve repetitive motion. He has built several “working models ” of such invented machines, which he uses as references for his paintings. Whitten places these “machines” into the world of the paintings – into imagined architecture often inspired or “discovered” in dreams. There, they wait for the moment when the viewer’s glance or “touch” sets them in motion.

Whitten is also drawn to “Tivoli” Games and “Dexterity Puzzles” (little boxes that allow one to move ball bearings and other object into specified holes without touching them). Some of his paintings are invented versions of these games – either small enough to fit in one’s hands or so big as to be overwhelming.

Richard Whitten, Macchina (Machine), 2009

While writing the description of these themes, the artist realized that in fact all his paintings are like the Dexterity Games described in his second theme. To experience them, the viewers must, in their imagination, interact with the paintings and momentarily remove themselves from day-to-day existence.

Whitten has always stated that, “ultimately, my paintings are about intellectual play – an impetus for learning and exploration”, but now, after considering this exhibition, he also believes that they are as much about fascination and delight.

Richard Whitten earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University of California at Davis, where he studied with both Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson.
He has had numerous exhibitions on both coasts. Notable are major solo exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington, the Newport Art Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, and the University of Maine Museum of Art.
He is represented by ArtMora Gallery; NY and Seoul, Korea; Clark Gallery Lincoln, MA; and Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport, MA
He is presently a Professor of Painting and Department Chairperson at Rhode Island College.