Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley

"No painter, dead or alive, has ever made us more aware of our eyes than Bridget Riley." (Robert Melville, The New Statesman, 1970.) The first woman to be awarded the prestigious International Prize for painting (1968), Bridget Riley is one of the foremost proponents of Op Art, and one of twentieth century Britain’s best-known artists per se. Read more

Born in London in 1931, Riley spent her childhood in Cornwall and Lincolnshire. Since the mid 1960’s she has been celebrated for her distinctive, optically vibrant paintings that actively engage the viewer’s sensations and perceptions, producing visual experiences that are complex and challenging, subtle and arresting.

Riley’s subject matter tends to be restricted to a simple vocabulary of colours and abstract shapes. These form her starting point and from them she develops formal progressions, colour relationships and repetitive structures. The effect is to generate sensations of movement, light and space: visual experiences which also have a strong resonances, emotional and visceral.

During her childhood, when she lived in Cornwall, she formed an acute responsiveness to natural phenomena. In particular, she has said, the effects of light and colour in the landscape made a deep impression on her. Though her mature work does not proceed from observation, it is nevertheless connected with the experience of nature. Of her paintings, she has said: "the eye can travel over the surface in a way parallel to the way it moves over nature. It should feel caressed and soothed, experience frictions and ruptures, glide and drift…One moment there will be nothing to look at and the next second the canvas seems to refill, to be crowded with visual events." This parallel relation between Riley’s art and nature has underpinned the development of her work, colouring the way it forms both an exploration and a celebration of a fundamental human experience: sight.

 

June/July/August 2014

'Bridget Riley: The Stripe Paintings' opened at David Zwiner gallery in London last month to much critical aclaim. The show features 15 paintings as well as works on paper from 1960 to present—an absolute must see this summer!