In Riley's early work, geometric forms were harnessed to mathematical progressions to produce the effect of a dramatic optical buckling of surfaces and exploding of visual energies.
Study for 'Entice I, 1974' by Bridget Riley CH, CBE
In 1967, when she introduced colour into her painting, Riley felt that she needed less complex forms so that she could be certain of not merely colouring these forms but of fully releasing colour's pictorial energy. Thus bands of colour were deployed and colour interaction now created a particular experience of light. In 1973 rhythmic bands were introduced, and in this study were phased to create visual fracturings diagonally across these undulating waves. Groups of colour were employed in patterns which maintained the individual visibility of colours and yet pulled them into patterns which arrested one's vision and also allowed it to travel freely again apparently beyond the edge of the picture.
Riley's statements clearly reveal that she aspired to an affective poetry of colour-light: 'What I experienced [in my childhood in Cornwall] formed the basis of my visual life... It was not the actual sea, the individual rocks or valleys in themselves which constituted the essence of vision but that they were agents of a greater reality... I discovered that I was painting in order to 'make visible'.' Yet paradoxically this romancing of the eye is conducted within an idiom of formal stringency and aesthetic of pure phenomenology. One if left with a position similar to Delaunay in his 1914 essay 'Light'. For Delaunay an underlying reality of light 'created' sight, which in turn focused on light as the element most consonant with the 'opticality' of painting and most fundamentally 'real', in an endless circularity of argument.
|Artist:||Bridget Riley CH, CBE|
|Material:||gouache on paper|
|Measurements:||1340 x 1060 mm|
|Technique:||marked up in pencil and painted by hand|
|Location:||Arts & Humanities Research Council, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol, BS1 2AE. View by appointment; please contact the AHRC's Facilities Manager on 01179 876 500|
|Rights owner:||Bridget Riley|
|Rights status:||UK HE use only|
|Institution:||Council for National Academic Awards|
|Notes:||1949-52: Goldsmiths' College - Student , 1952-55 Royal College of Art - Student|
Riley taught children for two years before joining the Loughborough School of Art, where she initiated a basic design course in 1959. She then taught at Hornsey School of Art, and from 1962 at Croydon School of Art.