Being one of the most significant contemporary artists, Bridget Riley’s work has radically explored the active role of perception in art, using the interrelationship between line and color to convey movement and light within the pictorial field. From the early 1960s, she has employed elementary shapes like circles, stripes and curves to create visual experiences that actively engage the viewer, testing the limits of each element at various stages throughout her career.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE „Bridget Riley“, through 10 March, David Zwirner Gallery London, davidzwirner.com
A comprehensive show of the artist’s work at David Zwirner Gallery, London presents Riley’s recent paintings as well as wall works and a series of studies focusing on the theme of black and white and the disc.
Spanning three floors of the 24 Grafton Street location in London, the exhibition will include wall paintings and works on canvas as well as a group of related studies that focus on two themes: works in black-and-white and the disc. The works on view both extend and rework the artist’s previous investigations of these motifs in new ways.
Riley’s formally taut, abstract compositions yield a singular sense of visual pleasure for the viewer, a notion derived as much from the artist’s formative encounters with Old Master and Impressionist painting as from her early experiences with nature. Since 1961, she has focused exclusively on seemingly simple geometric forms, such as lines, circles, curves, and squares, arrayed across a surface—whether a canvas, a wall, or paper—according to an internal logic.
The resulting compositions actively engage the viewer, at times triggering sensations of vibration and movement. This sense of dynamism was explored to great effect in the artist’s earliest black-and-white paintings, which established the basis of her enduring formal vocabulary. In 1967, Riley introduced colour into her work, thus expanding the perceptual and optical possibilities of her compositions.
Though she has completed site-specific murals, beginning in 1983 with her work for the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, more recently, the development of Riley’s body of wall paintings, initiated in 2007 with Arcadia 1, underscores perception itself as her enduring subject. Painting directly on the wall, Riley collapses the distinction between figure, ground, and support, thus activating the picture plane in a different way from her works on canvas.