© John Riddy

London (St Mary Axe), 2003
C-type print, 47 x 60 cm

John Riddy
Recent Places

Frith Street Gallery in pleased to announce two consecutive exhibitions of new photographic works of John Riddy.

The first exhibition "Recent Places" encapsulates the themes and concerns that are key to Riddy's practice; the relationship between photography and place, architectural symmetry, spatial illusion and the world as a sculptural object. Many of the photographs in this exhibition were made during a number of trips to southern Africa and they range from views of domestic interiors to the spartan landscapes of the original Afrikaans settlers.

The crucial difference with these works is that they are made exclusively in colour. By introducing this element Riddy subtly emphasises the context of the locations he has chosen to photograph. He eloquently describes their particularities; their colour and light yet there is no overt reference to the political undercurrents, desperate histories and uncertain futures of this part of the world. The grand European architecture of Maputo's central railway station and that city's elegant concrete apartment blocks are seen bathed in rich tropical light and encroached upon by equatorial vegetation. A township street after a rain shower is strangely evocative of a small northern European settlement, an image of a Capetown suburb is composed with regard to Renaissance perspective.

Another series of photographs deals again with the effects of light and colour but this time the images depict London at night. Here the light is electrical creating an artificial world of intense colours, occasionally interrupted by natural elements: moonlight, the reflection of the Thames, trees and grass. These pictures relate strongly to 19th Century photographer's preoccupations with scenes of industrial advance. Images of classic, Victorian, massively engineered structures, such as Blackfriar's railway bridge spanning the river, are shown along side pictures of The City's burgeoning high-rise architecture. This version of London seems distanced but somehow not unfamiliar, it is a place of where incongruity produces instances of surprising beauty and enjoyment.

The second exhibition "Skies" consists entirely of colour photographs of cloudscapes made over the past six months in London, Bogota, France and South Africa. For Riddy this subject presents the ultimate illusion. Clouds have an almost sculptural quality yet they are the most ephemeral form of sculpture - consisting of nothing but water vapour, air and light. These photographs are in part about finding order and composition where such notions can't possibly exist and where cultural significance lies completely in projection. Here colour functions as a spatial reference and through it one can detect layers of light and atmosphere. In this series Riddy again makes subtle allusion to art historical themes: to the paintings of Constable, Corot and Turner and also to the work of art as a diaristic moment - they are pictures of a seemingly inconsequential moment in time.

John Riddy was born in 1959. He studied at Chelsea School of Art. His work has been exhibited widely both in Britain and abroad, recent exhibitions include "100 Great Photographs", Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Cathedral and Camera, Baltic, Newcastle (2003). His large-scale photographic installation of "Room 101" can be seen currently at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Exhibition: 16 January - 10 February 2004
Gallery hours: Tue-Fri 10 am - 6 pm, Sat 11am - 4 pm

Frith Street Gallery
59-60 Frith Street
GB-London W1D 3JJ
Telefon +44 20 7494 1550
Fax +44 20 7287 3733
Email info@frithstreetgallery.com