Denis’s Ball. 2020. Gilded copper sphere, ⌀ 30 cm.
Etruscan Shield (Blue). 2020. Silk print, 90x90 cm.
Etruscan Shield (Verdigris). 2019. Frottage watercolor drawing, ⌀ 96 cm.
Flower Bomb (Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome). 2020. Silk print. 178x134 cm.
Medallion (Pontine). 2019. Frottage watercolor drawing, ⌀ 96 cm.
Medallion (Seagrass). 2019. Frottage watercolor drawing, ⌀ 96 cm.
Seagrass Mist (Annisquam). 2020. Silk print. 90x90 cm.
Temporal Stabilities brings together new works by Liz Rideal in the first showing in Rome of works by this celebrated British artist in a decade. The show is the culmination of a year-long international collaboration between the Slade School of Fine Art (UCL), The British School at Rome, and John Cabot University.
Temporal Stabilities explores the constancy in temporal change: the interlacing of actions and associations, the resonance of haptic memories, and the layering of processes and histories. Ancient traces are not left unseen; rather, Liz Rideal’s works traces their presence like haunting memories. They reveal these metamorphic pasts through multi-layered references and an easy touch of complex artistry.
The seven works selected constitute an amalgam of artistic methodology that in their hybrid forms conjure up cultural and temporal spaces through their use of color and textures. All the works were created in response to the visually extravagant marble Cosmatesque floors found in medieval churches throughout Rome, and each work explores this in a variety of processes and techniques.
The silk prints Flower Bomb (Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome), Etruscan Shield (Blue) and Seagrass, Annisquam transform the intricate floor patterns into evanescent, floating forms that questions the stabilities of materials and time – calling to mind both the histories of the quarried marbles, the history of the silk road trade, and the use of spolia as a statement of luxurious continuity. In the movement of the silk prints with the real-time currents of air, performing colored silks move through the atmosphere, transforming these images from a momentary photographic state, to an apparent reanimation of the in-situ creative action by the artist.
The frottage watercolor drawings Medallion (Pontine), Medallion (Seagrass), and Etruscan Shield (Verdigris) similarly create and subvert the illusion of movement. The rubbings of the Cosmatesque floors may start as copies of patterns in wax and pastel on Japanese paper; however, by purposefully moving the paper during the process, a fleeting quality is created. Like the presence of sitters in early photographs that moved during the process of capture, these works unveil patterns that are present yet intangible.
Successive processes of soakings, printings, dragging, pressings and repainting wrests new textures from the paper in a layering of actions and gestures that echoes the transformative nature of the spolia floors.
The series is brought together a by glimmering gilded copper sphere, Denis’s Ball. A modest ballcock, originally part of an ancient water tank atop the National Portrait Gallery in London, this repurposed modern object is a prism for the show. Resting on top of a corbel where once stood a statue of the Madonna, Denis’s Ball alludes as much to a Christian royal orb as to Jeff Koon’s ‘gazing balls’ and its altering reflection offers an alternative process for viewing the stable non-linearity of time.
Liz Rideal is an artist and author, with over 50 international solo exhibitions and artworks held in public collections including Tate; V&A; BM; Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark; Berkeley Art Museum & Yale Centre for British Art, USA. Professor at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL; Leverhulme Fellowship (2016-17), British Academy grant (2011), and a British School at Rome Scholarship (2008-9). Author of Mirror/Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, National Portrait Gallery/Watson-Guptill, NY, 2001; Insights: Self-portraits, NPG, 2005; and How to Read Painting, Bloomsbury/Rizzoli, 2014/15. Co-author of Madam and Eve: women portraying women, Laurence King, 2018, and of the introduction to Phaidon’s 500 Self-portraits, 2018.