John Riddy

8 Nov 1996 - 12 Jan 1997 Soho Square

John Riddy’s architectural photographs and photographs of interiors cover a deliberately diverse range of locations and spaces.

However, each photograph has its own time and space. Whether it is a Pyrenean roadside café photographed after the lunch-time guests have left, or a Tunisian psychiatric hospital, photographed in blinding North African light, Riddy reacts to the particular space and sculptural incident of each location bringing an intelligent coherence to a complex situation.


Where Riddy’s previous works related in scale to a large book, these larger works are closer in scale to a window or a large television screen. They exploit a strong sense of illusion as if the artist had found a window or a frame in the present and arrested that view.


The two- and three-part works have an almost cinematic presence. In Valencia (Port), the image pans from a now-disused port building across to the wall and vista that adjoins it. The building is an abandonned relic; its windows filled with blank concrete, its door firmly closed. Alongside it, an ageing mural of the workplace is obscured by a huge Benneton poster (in English!) and pro-Republican graffiti. Two figures form a curious juxtaposition to these flat images, looking into receeding space.


Past and present are held simultaneously in a state of tension in Riddy’s works. The decorative frescoed walls of the Basque church in Charitte de Haut, 1996, contrast disturbingly with its vaulted ceiling and balcony. The upper space has been hastily re-patched and remains apparently disused and ignored. An unforgiving shaft of light from a skylight cuts through the calm and silence of the church.


Riddy’s approach is a respectful and almost reticent one. He characterises his images as being concerned with the gap between what is clearly described and what is seen in a photograph. His images present a contradiction; the most solid building can seem momentarily fragile and both scene and image seem to exist on the very edge of falling apart.