Photographs 1996 -1998


Time Out, New York

Image 7 of 7

Lucas Schoormans Gallery
New York

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

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.
Sarah Gavlak, Time Out New York, 31 August – 7 September 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.
The New Yorker, Photography, August 21 and 28, 2000

Catalogue with essays by Professor Bryony Fer and Professor Anna Moszynska, click here
Review in Fibre Arts Magazine