Frith Street Gallery

Golden Square

17-18 Golden Square, London W1F 9JJ
T +44 (0)20 7494 1550 ~ F +44 (0)20 7287 3733

Press relating to John Riddy

  • Review: James Castle / John Riddy: Of Things Placed ~ Charlie Fox

    Published in Frieze Magazine, November 2015 ( Issue 175, p. 170 )

    The exhibition in fact contains images of two expanses of parched wilderness, wisely paired and thousands of miles apart: one photographed by John Riddy, the other drawn by James Castle. Their respective haunts were South Africa’s jagged Cape Peninsula, a spur of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean that the British-born Riddy has roamed over for decades, and Idaho, where the deaf and illiterate Castle, an artist of disarming gifts, was born in 1899 and remained until his death, 78 years later. Together, they map communities from their most desolate edges to provide documents of these places that are difficult to decipher and reverberate with mutually ghoulish history.

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  • Artforum Critics’ Pick: John Riddy and James Castle ~ Julia Langbein

    Published in Artforum, October 2015

    In the abstract, it seems merely provocative to pair John Riddy’s recent photographs of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula with drawings by the self-taught American artist James Castle. Riddy is a British photographer of exquisite technical precision, while Castle, deaf and illiterate, worked in almost complete obscurity until his death in 1977, turning found materials such as packing boxes and kitchen twine into sculpture, books, and drawings.

    These pieces share a vocabulary of barns, gables, pilons, and power lines; yet in both, banal subjects viewed dead-on can remain strangely unknowable…Of course, this pairing shatters expectations of photographic objectivity or “outsider” subjectivity, but better yet, the formal enigmas of Riddy’s floating trailers and Castle’s squiggle symbols will find their partners if one looks close enough.

    http://artforum.com/picks/id=55243

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  • ‘Palermo’ features gritty views of the historic central city ~ Steve Bennett

    Published in San Antonio Express-News, November 2014

    Riddy’s photographs — cobblestone street scenes and alleys with parked compact cars, boats on the beach, a park with a gnarly 100-year-old tree near the marina — have extraordinary focus and depth of field that creates a gritty texture, a sheer density of detail, that requires prolonged study. It’s easy to fall into one of Riddy’s images.

    http://www.expressnews.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article/Palermo-features-gritty-views-of-the-historic-5909237.php#/0

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  • John Riddy ~ Rachel Withers

    Published in ArtForum, 3 June 2013

    John Riddy’s photographs of Palermo are the outcome of repeated visits to the Italian city over several years. This series, made over a span of three years beginning in 2011, feature superb monochrome images that possess a thrilling intensity and a sense of complete resolution. Looking at them, one can imagine Riddy doggedly trudging the city streets and returning again and again to possible locations, to assess whether the light, perspective, architecture, textures, and distribution of details might generate a picture that announces itself as definitive—inevitable, even. His habit of shooting in the early morning leads to pictures that are literally depopulated, but metaphorically screeching with traces of human activity, from the setting up of shrines and monuments to the spraying of graffiti.

    http://artforum.com/picks/section=uk&mode=past#picks41008

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  • John Riddy: Palermo ~ Morgan Meaker

    Published in Time Out, 25 April 2013

    In John Riddy’s sombre series of cityscapes, the seasoned British photographer envisions the Sicilian capital as an empty stage, devoid of players or inhabitants. Absence and ruin linger here, hinting at our own mortality in the face of an enduring urban landscape. The debris of human existence litters each frame; an abandoned car lies drenched in shadow and empty fruit and veg boxes swim through dark, concrete streets. Riddy exploits this greyscale to its full advantage, finding moments of pure pictorial poetry against a backdrop of neglect.

    http://www.timeout.com/london/art/john-riddy-palermo

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  • Shades of Sicily: John Riddy’s photographs of Palermo ~ Adrian Searle

    Published in The Guardian, 24 April 2013

    John Riddy opens up the world and he hems you in. His black and white photographs of Palermo in Sicily, now at London’s Frith Street Gallery, are filled with endless detail. No painting could record so much and with such clarity; no eye could take it all in. You’d go mad thinking about it all.

    Each photograph is a lexicon of light and dark, rubbish and dirt, patched-up stucco and rotting stone. And every day, every moment, is different. The streets are swept and more rubbish gets strewn about. New graffiti is sprayed over old. Lights go on and off, shutters are raised and lowered, chairs appear outside doorways and are brought back in again. The cars parked on the street are different from the ones that were here yesterday. Why photograph this day and not the next? The light wasn’t the same. On New Year’s Day in 2012 the streets are empty. Only the Afghan grocers have their shutters up on a street called Carmine. It rained last night, while Palermo was celebrating. In the distance, one street lamp is still on, its light as white as the sky reflected in the puddles.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/apr/24/john-riddy-photographs-palermo

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  • JOHN RIDDY: Romanticism Gets Real ~ Nicholas Alfrey

    Published in TATE etc , January 2011

    John Riddy’s large colour photographs of London are in obvious contrast to the emphasis on the rural and marginal elsewhere. Two of them have an oblique connection to the Romantics, though they also suggest how quickly traces are erased in the modern city. London(Wapping) 2008 shows some of the real estate on the thoroughly madeover waterfront. This is post-picturesque all right, and a far cry from the place to which Turner liked to retreat (he had property here, too, a pub called The Ship and Bladebone). London(Bank) 2008 is a flat blank wall with a statue of John Soane in a niche. Soane worked on his designs for the Bank of England for more than 40 years, and the result was his masterpiece; it proved an ephemeral monument, however, and hardly any of his fabric remains. Through his attentiveness to surfaces, Riddy reveals a city of many losses.

    http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue21/romanticsalfrey.htm

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  • Patterned Stillness ~ Simon Denison

    Published in Source: The Photographic Review, Summer 2009

    [Riddy’s] photographs have a stillness, a mesmerising quality that is only partly the result of an absence of people and events. In ‘London (Marylebone)’, for instance, we see the underside of the A40 Westway. The frame is filled with detail, democratically but asymmetrically ordered, which sustains our attention through the process of repeat discovery, and yet the structure has a clarity and openness. The scene has depth but minimal layering: the image calms; it does not confuse.

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  • John Riddy ~ Rachel Withers

    Published in Artforum, Summer 2009

    So is Riddy a romantic or a realist? That such an uncertainty can exist is a function of the extreme subtlety of this photographer’s image-world. Exploring muted ranges of color and tone, and often representing unremarkable locations that would never make it into any tourist guide to London… the ten landscape-format color photographs that comprise “Low Relief” invite descriptors such as “quiet,” “subdued,” or even “self-effacing.” ‘London (Weston Street), 2009’, offers the most extreme example. The evenly dark-toned picture of part of a railway arch near London Bridge station in essence, an invitation to stare at a brick wall… Janus-like, the image has two faces, one dingy and banal and the other unexpectedly beautiful.

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  • Out of Time ~ Brian Dillon

    Published in Art Review, May 2009

    “I’ve made a conscious effort to take perspective our of the pictures”, [John Riddy] says; “I think it’s an attempt to use a more ‘primitive’ way of composing the image so that you end up with something more guttural, where flat planes are suspended in a different pictorial space.” The resuld is a London that seems built out of stage flats of trompe l’oeil hoardings, a city fabric made of grey facades on which are inscribed the traces of alternate histories.

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