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Bridget Riley – Towards Colour Press Release



riley-website-front-pageUpDown  gallery  is  delighted to announce  its 3rd exhibition, Towards Colour, by renowned British artist Bridget Riley.

Born in 1931 in London, Bridget Riley became the  first  female  artist  to  represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale  in  1968,  which has long been a benchmark and launch pad for many world-­renowned artists.

Riley’s unique  sense  of  colour was apparent to her from an early age and she vividly remembers walking with her sister and mother along the beaches    and coastal paths  of  Cornwall where  they  holidayed.   Colours and shapes would jump out at  her and she  remembers looking out  over  a calm sea, seeing the various shapes and colours shimmering  and jostling for position on the horizon forming abstracted paintings in front of her eyes.  It was an   experience that has influenced Riley’s work over the decades and has inspired numerous artists.   Other artists inspired by similar experiences include most noteworthy JMW Turner who was so taken by the seascapes of South East Kent.

Riley’s ‘Op Art’, a now acknowledged term to categorise  her  optically challenging black and white works made in the early 60s, came about almost by mistake.  Her artistic practice, which involves painstaking arranging and rearranging of the different elements of a composition until the balance and desired frequency has been achieved, is only complete when the work has exactly the right resonance for Riley.

In the 1980s Riley travelled extensively and it was after a trip to Egypt that Riley moved toward colour in her work beginning a series termed her  ‘Egyptian   Palette’, which echoed the burnt, smouldering and rich colours she experienced.  Riley always believed that the best way to see colours was to live with them and experience them.  She was greatly influenced by Seurat, one of the world’s best colourists, and fully acknowledges that  it was through directly copying one of his paintings that she had a breakthrough with her own understanding of colour.

“An artist has to be realistic or they wouldn’t be able to realise anything.  Imagination has to be captured by reality”  -­ Riley

Riley’s main focus is on her paintings, but like many artists she fully appreciates the role that printmaking plays in her artistic process.  Having had major retrospectives at Tate  and MoMA it is exciting for UpDown to be able to show an overview of her printmaking output from 1962 through to her latest prints published in 2012.  Moving through her  iconic  optical black and white 60s   prints toward the introduction of colour, illustrating the changing use of lines and curves,  which are then moved on from to be revisited years later.  Two prints in particular sum up Riley’s acute sense of colour, ‘Ra 2’ and ‘Silvered 2’ 1981, a pair of screen prints  using exactly the same limited colour palette but in different combinations, producing completely different results.  Although this principal is an on going dialogue Riley uses these two prints to illustrate to the viewer how she can manipulate colour to heighten the  viewers’ experience.

“Art is a social act, my work is completed by the viewer” -­ Riley

Riley remains a major figure within the British and International art world and her work continues to push the boundaries of colour and composition.   A very private artist she rarely gives interviews, preferring her work to do the talking.

TOWARDS COLOUR by Bridget Riley, 16th February -­ 30th March, at  UpDown Gallery is shown in collaboration with her dealer Karsten Schubert in London.

To view the press release as a PDF, please click here: RILEY Towards Colour Press Release (PDF)

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