Guardian Guide 28 October 2006
Liz Rideal has an enduring fascination with the beauty of ephemera, with what she has described as “clarity containing chaos.” She has captured semi-abstract images of falling draperies, oceanic currents, tangled roots and portraits obscured by a gestural veil of hair. Here she pushes the organic ambiguity further by projecting Super-8 film of nature onto the natural environs of Compton Verney. Shot early this year in Canada, the silent film follows cascading water, a circling flock of gulls and a deer threading its way through woodland. Juxtaposed with the actual changing landscape, the sequences take on an eerie, almost luminous aura. Compton Verney, to December 10.
Financial Times Magazine 28 October 2006
Rideal’s silent film, shot in Niagara, Burleigh Falls and Big Cedar, Canada, is a meditation on the power of nature which premieres against the backdrop of Compton Verney’s landscaped gardens.
The Independent, Five Best Exhibitions 11, 15, 18,21, November, 2 December 2006
The Canadian wilds are transposed to English parkland in the new film projection of nature on to nature.
The Independent on Sunday, The Top Fifty 19 November 2006
Liz Rideal’s lyrical Super8s untame Nature by projecting the Canadian winter onto Warwickshire parkland.
The Art Newspaper March 2003
Whatever the medium, the up-ended root species from Rideal’s London garden go beyond fixed limits to occupy the imagination. Assembled singly, in pairs, threes or foursomes, like inspired performers, they freely adopt likely poses or strike up attitudes in a joyously varied ritual dance against a variety of real and simulated backdrops. Beyond Rideal’s concern with photographic process as much as natural form, here are potent metaphors for alchemy, renewal, sex, permanence, transience and death.
Sunday Republican 6 October 2002
University Gallery, Amherst, Mass.
“Let’s begin this consideration of the work of British artist Liz Rideal by reflecting on the significance of two disparate objects: plant roots and photo-booths.
They are homely, ordinary, hardly the precious stuff of fine art. But they are central to Rideal’s oeuvre, a survey of which is on view at the University Gallery, Amherst.
The roots appear as sculpture and as photographic subject her latest work. The remains of Night Scented Stock, pulled from her London garden at the end of the growing season, they assumed new life when Rideal, recognising the artistic potential of their energetic forms, cast them in bronze.
Transformed and arranged in groupings, they call to mind other states of being. “Mandrake Tango” renders the essence of the dance, its two root systems executing an exaggerated step.
Given the formal element of the objects – linear, spiralling, entwining – the implications become visible. Dynamic forms echo the natural life force that roots contain and symbolise. A swelling line calls to mind the volumes of a human body; tendrils might be swinging strands of hair or gesturing arms.
The installation places the sculpture before a series of large monoprints on handmade paper. Their gauzy, atmospheric imagery contributes to the metaphor. These “Auroras of Autumn” evoke shadowy, damp, low sunlight or smudges of dirt. Smeary ink stains along the edges announce the process and the presence of the artist.
That evidence of the creative act suffuses the photo-booth work, which originated in the early 1990s when Rideal adopted that commonplace apparatus as artistic tool. Seeing the possibilities inherent in repetitive strips of photograph, she photographed her own hands and arms so that, out of context, they appear as abstract black marks on a white ground. Then she assembled the prints, rotated and arranged them into grids and built composite images. “Le Balcon”, for instance, seems to be a wrought iron balcony railing in silhouette.
Following that initial phase, Rideal began to attach coloured backdrops to the wall of the photo-booth. Then she introduced into the camera’s gaze length of sheer fabric in various colours: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, white, either tossing them into the booth or adjusting them in layers against the back wall. The veils become rainbows, responding to the colour of the wall and an outside light source; against black in “Thunder Smoke 4”. they glow; against blue in “Blue Fall 3” they float, seemingly , underwater.
In that group, she isolated and enlarged individual pictures, and re-photographed the composite as a C-print. In another series, “Arras Suite Chocolate” as an example she assembled the original strips of tiny prints into a large collage whose repeating motifs construct subtle, shifting patterns.
When Rideal introduced plant material to the photo-booth, she also alternated her process. The root in the C-print “Nigella” materialises as a large shadow. In the collage of photo-booth strips, “Fantin Latour Homage”‘ a bouquet wavers between truths, simultaneously visible and concealed with the rhythmic pattern of the grid. Here again, Rideal conjures up an enigma to challenge our perceptions of reality.”
Time Out New York 31 August – 7 September 2000
Liz Rideal “Photographs 1996-1998”
The original owner of Courbet’s L’Origine du monde, the first known “crotch shot” in the history of art, kept the painting in his library behind a green curtain in order to veil the work from inappropriate eyes. In a similar vein, the Marilyn Chambers porn classic Behind the Green Door touched upon themes of concealment. Between them, these two examples run the cultural gamut from high to low (or low to lower, depending on your point of view), but in both cases, green ends up being the colour of choice for masking the forbidden.
All of which comes to mind when viewing the most commanding work in London-based artist Liz Rideal’s first solo show in New York: a horizontal photographic grid depicting a diaphanous green fabric’s fall over the course of several frames. The images are dreamy enough, a cloth floats through darkened space. Yet the work, like its companions around the gallery documents the artist’s repetitive gesture of tossing a single piece of fabric in a photo booth (green, in fact, is just one colour in a palette that flirts with erotic associations of the seen and unseen). Rideal either painstakingly adheres these images to create large grids or enlarges individual frames into something that achieves the impact of minimalist colour-field painting.
However rigid or mechanical her method, the results are invariably beautiful and highly sensual. No doubt influenced by Muybridge’s motion studies as well as by Warhol’s work with the lowly photo booth, Rideal creates images that are as original as they are dynamic. Occasionally, a hand or a bit of the artist’s arm appears in a photograph. But for the most part, the artist leaves us to fantasize about what might lie behind the veil.
The New Yorker, Photography August 21 and 28, 2000
English artist Rideal’s first New York solo show is full of colour images of fabric taken in a photo booth – romantic, minimalist work that mixes the formality and ephemerality of Agnes Martin’s pictures with the curvy, textile-draped femininity of Veronese’s. In “Arras Suite Red,” hundreds of four-picture photo strips mounted together create a Muybridge-like meditation on the movement of a piece of Indian silk. For “Pig’s Ear,” pink fabric someralults across a black background, inanimate, but somehow loaded with playful and lyrical humanity.
New York Times, Art in Review 11 August 2000
508 West 26th St
For 15 years Liz Rideal has made the photo-booth, that popular dispenser of instant mug shots, her primary tool. Many artists have toyed with low-budget technology but few have explored its formal possibilities so extensively as the British photographer, who is having her first New York solo show.
Early on Ms Rideal departed from the conventional photo booth portrait Works from 1996 to 1998, on show here, focus on colored fabrics that the artist manipulates before the cameras’s unwavering eye, producing a kind of photographic update of Color Field painting. In the best works here, she collages hundreds of the four-shot strips into large grids. Up close in “Arras Suite Red” you can see each little picture shows a slightly crumpled expanse of red cloth. From a distance, more than 800 little red squares coalesce into a lush, vibrating field.
In other works, Ms. Rideal re-photographs photo booth strips and makes montages of enlarged frames, “Green Veil,” which measures about 4 by 20 feet is a grid of two dozen frames, each a different image of translucent green chiffon floating, fluttering or twisting against a white background. (In one frame, the artist’s fingers appear, revealing off-camera performance). These are less richly concentrated than the collages made from the original strips, but they have an elegant interplay of sensuous fluidity and rhythmic order.
Time Out London 29 July – 5 August 1998
Berry House ‘Solo x 9’
Liz Rideal’s collages of photo-booth strips are the unexpected highlights of this show. They glide effortlessly between spellbindingly beauty and conceptual clout. Instead of portraits destined for official scrutiny, there are candy-coloured veils that seemingly dance of their own accord.
Art Monthly May 1996