A self-taught artist returning to his birthplace of Peterborough, Ontario after a 30-year career in Toronto, James Ridyard is both stylistically and figuratively reminiscent of a modern day Monet. Ridyard has returned to his roots to visually record the beauty of the area and seek the story of his beginnings, much like Monet, who left Paris for the countryside; he too was seeking inspiration where others wouldn’t.
Hailing from the theatre, Ridyard brings to the visual arts a dramatic interest in historical tradition and contemporary representation. His work has received critical media attention and he is currently represented in Ottawa at Koyman Galleries.
James aims to create contemporary work that addresses historical representation. He explains that he enjoys combining aspects of traditional representation with modern aesthetics and the clashing of styles that produce engaging and original work. He looks for landscape images in rural Ontario that seem unchanging, as if from the 19th century, and the Peterborough area is rich with possibilities. Inspired by Impressionist pieces and old master works such as those by Corot and Inness, James Ridyard is also influenced by artists who have lived and survived in rural communities.
After extensive professional experience in theatre, film and art history, and even a stint performing with the National Ballet of Canada, James has chosen to pursue his own aesthetics. He joined artist-run centres and started to build a career where he could connect with others who shared his passion. An avid reader of art and history, James has recently begun researching the Peterborough area to locate historical sights and breathe new life into forgotten places.