Art Critics by Hans Janstad

Kim Ritthagen


The art of healing with color and form


"The Amazon’s final battle" is an acrylic painting by Kim Ritthagen. You can see a naked shield maiden and between her legs a fetus with an intact umbilical cord. It is a symbolic painting for Kim Ritthagen, who is also a doctor in addition to an artist. The art of medicine, this fine symbiosis of healing and art, has characterized Kim's adult life. Early she started drawing, painting and photographing. She daydreamed, looking inward and heard the tales of her mind, saw "amazing scenery" and always "she was surrounded by animals." And it is in many ways an enchanted world that we encounter in the images of Kim Ritthagen. The colorful parrots rub their beaks against each other sitting on a branch in the liana thick "Rainforest". But perched on a different branch, in the painting "Light Carriers” you find a little red-haired nymph, looking down on a suite of pale women entities wandering to an unknown destination.

Everywhere in the images animals appear, it can be a deer, owl, stork, frog, guinea pig or butterflies. They are paintings vibrating with color, warmth and sometimes hot color. Her idiom is soft and distinct, simple yet multi-faceted.

What drives her artistry? For twenty years she has been working as a doctor, but now only working part time to be able as an artist to express her creative side. She believes that her medical work and patient contacts have led her to reach deeper into her painting and the creative helps her with "problem solving" in the doctor´s role.

But we return to "The Amazon´s final battle". I think it can be seen as a milestone in her artistic as well as her personal life. The Amazon will put down her spear and shield. She is no longer the maiden, instead she is a mother. Beneath her there is new life. And it is an existence that Kim Ritthagen wants to describe as good and light. She has no need to illustrate evil. She doesn´t want to paint wars and horrors. Not the darkness but instead the light. And it is an art that wants to heal, help us finding ourselves comfortable in life. That is why the constellation doctor and artist are significant. The art and practice of medicine has gone hand in hand since the beginning of our era. Luke was a Greek physician and according to history, the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles. But it has been said that he also was an artist and, according to a medieval legend, having painted portraits of Jesus and Mary. Whatever this is true, but Luke is the patron saint of artists and doctors. Although Luke never painted a portrait of Jesus, there is in Kim Ritthagen´s painting of "The Amazon´s final battle" a woman with outstretched arms in the same way as Jesus on the cross. Is it an illustration of the role of women in modern life? A feministic topic in today's debate?

Yes, there are many depths in Kim Ritthagen´s image world. But even facing difficult questions, there is calm in the paintings, as in "moonlight", where deer, owl and frog keep the fairy woman company, in a color scale reminiscent of Walt Disney's "Enchanted Night". The woman in the contour painting "Astra" stands against a similarly star-gleaming night; you feel how Kim constantly seeks the light.

Kim Ritthagen has found her own world, a world where you really would like to walk with her, discovering the beauty of nature. A world that is beautiful and warm in color and with countless explorations in each painting. Equally rich in stories as the rainforest she dreamt of. In addition to painting Kim Ritthagen work with photography, sculpture and silversmithing. She truly breaks boundaries, a cross-border, but for a doctor can color, shape and imagination seem like an excellent medicine, entirely in Luke's spirit, although these medicament mixes not yet have led to any Nobel Prize.

Kim Ritthagen says she was a daydreamer in school. But the dream can come true. And it has become apparent in Kim's life. Better can it not be.

Hans Janstad

Art Critics by Hans Janstad

Copyright © Kim Ritthagen

All rights reserved

Copyright © Kim Ritthagen All rights reserved