Gallery

John Ridgwell (1937-2004)

John Ridgewell (1937-2004), was an Essex native, who studied alongside David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj at the Royal College of Art.   He and his family moved around England, from Yorkshire to Suffolk, via Dorset, his surroundings creeping into and influencing his paintings. From the gestural, heavier treatment of paint in his student days, his works became lighter in terms of colour, but more intensely intricate in their subject matter. Their delicacy was built up with brushes, a palette knife and textiles, using, frottage, a technique which Max Ernst had explored, printing from textiles and found objects directly onto the canvas.  

His pieces are fascinating compressions of art history – in them can be read the early, profound influence of Georges Braque, a hint of British Surrealism in their witty treatment of subject, and the meticulous trompe l’oeil of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish paintings.  His influences were many and varied, and despite his desire to be seen as merely a landscape painter, his works are so densely allusive that they transcend their subject. His paintings initially seemed to be attempts to merge his media and the landscape, such as those from the 1960s, where paint stands out from the canvas, and the horizon line is pushed upwards by angular shapes that could be rock strata, field patterns, or Braque’s cubist reductions.

Latterly, these elisions were between the real and the surreal, as in a painting of a sheet, laid out in a receding landscape, with letters that spell out his wife and child’s names. Ridgewell also played with the picture plane itself, creating trompe l’oeil frames from which the painting bled outwards, appearing to wrap the canvas with string and even painting on the back of the canvas itself. In these later works, there is a lingering sense of things drifting into a vague, unknown distance, fading into a pale, almost tempera-like blue. In his final paintings, this blue takes over, in paintings that could be both still lives or landscapes.

He showed regularly during his lifetime at The New Art Centre and Fischer Fine Art in London, in Gothenberg, Salzburg, Toronto, Dublin and Luxemburg.  His works are in a number of public collections including the Government Art Collection, The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston, Nuffield College, Oxford and the Royal College of Art.

Walberswick, Suffolk II, 1982
oil on canvas
76 x 60 cm
sold

Gasometer and Canal Locks at Bingley, W. Yorks
oil on canvas
64.5 x 100 cm

Steps V1
oil on paper, 1973
62.5 x 51 cm
Provenance: Fischer Fine Art

Hole Farm, Suffolk, 1988
oil on paper
16 x 22.5 cm
sold

John, Marion and James
oil on canvas
55 x 45 cm
sold

Landscape with teacup, houses, apples, paint tubes
oil on canvas
86 x 101 cm

Tiles, Old Byland Abbey, 1998
oil on paper
23 x 15 cm

Red House in a Landscape
oil on paper
56 x 48 cm

Coastal Landscape
oil on board
70 x 90 cm

Door to Nos 8 and 7, Richmond
oil on canvas
91 x 71.5 cm
sold

River Scene with Boats and Ferry Cottage
oil on canvas
60 x 49 cm
sold

Still Life with ceramic jug and pot of Ivy
oil on canvas
90 x 75 cm
sold

Morvah I
oil on canvas
49 x 74.5 cm
sold

Still Life of Apples with View through Window
oil on canvas
30.5 38 cm
sold

Ash Tree
oil on canvas
50 x 40 cm
sold

Still Life of Chestnuts in front of Window
oil on canvas
50 x 40 cm
sold

Wrapped Landscape
oil on canvas
38 x 30 cm
sold

Tree House
oil on canvas
65 x 59.5 cm
sold

Yorks Valley, 1974
oil on canvas
74 x 60 cm
sold