Whether black and white stripes contrast with each other in bewildering harmony, or vividly sharp colors calmly line-up to soothe the eye, there exists an exquisite charm in Bridget Riley’s entrancing canvases. Starting her career in the late 50’s after graduating from London’s famed Goldsmith’s College, Riley experimented with Pointillism and Abstraction while working as an illustrator. What she would be widely recognized for later in her career, however, were her optical works, which emerged as result of her fascination with Futurism, Constructivism and Minimalism. Focusing on the artist’s colorful stripe paintings from 1961 to the present on a large scale, Bridget Riley: The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014 at David Zwirner’s London location marks Riley’s largest survey since her 2003 retrospective at Tate London.
Few artists have been so much associated with one genre the way Riley is nearly inseparable from the history and genesis of Op-Art. Suggesting alternative visual experiences whilst imposing new dialogues between the eye and the mind, Op-Art refers to the creation of alternating illusions through various painting and color methods. Gaining international recognition for the first time with MoMA’s reputed 1965 exhibition The Responsive Eye, Riley has been redefining the logic of the optical perception, and exploring new formations of color and shape in subtle, captivating ways. Applying various techniques such as paint, PVA or emulsion on canvas, linen and wood in illusionistic arrangements, Riley delivers optically challenging works in forms of lines, curves or circles, at levels that it are sometimes painful to the eye, experimenting with the notions of flatness and color harmony.
Covering Zwirner’s three floor gallery space, Riley’s stripes of striking colors alternate between jarring experience and visual tranquillity. Created in a time span exceeding fifty years, Riley’s return to stripes throughout her career demonstrates the weight the artist has given to the line form, striking the perceptions in horizontal or vertical directions and various color palettes. Each work is charged with a different rhythm and density, and selected pieces comment on the interplay between the eye and the mind, suggesting illusions of color and pattern that rise up and disappear quickly. Flaming tones of orange, potent variations of red and soothing shades of blue all work together to bear meditative visuals.
Bold and charged with an elusively transient energy, Bridget Riley: The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014 is on view at David Zwirner through July 25, 2014.