Drapes and Veils

Detail, Blue Fall, 1998

Image 1 of 18

Drapes, veils and translucent sheer fabrics caught in motion. Images caught in performing sequence, collaged together sequentially to suggest action. When photography was developed in the nineteenth century, the conventional background curtains that were de rigeur in traditional painted portraits, were transferred to the photographic portrait. No surprise that they survived and became a constant within the photobooth. Rideal wanted to suppress the static curtain and liberate the material, get it to fly and misbehave. Give it a life of its own as an abstract object that suggested a painted sublimated emotional experience caught within the strictures of a minimal grid.

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.

The New Yorker, Photography August 21 and 28, 2000

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.

Ken Johnson, New York Times, Art in Review 11 August 2000. Lucas Schoormans Gallery, 508 West 26th St. Chelsea