A major exhibition devoted to the work of Bridget
Riley will open at Tate Britain in June 2003. Bridget Riley is one
of Britain's most respected artists and one of the few contemporary
painters with a truly international reputation. Her distinguished
and singular career encompasses forty years of uncompromising and
remarkable innovation. Riley first attracted critical attention with the
dazzling black and white paintings which she began to make in 1961.
These works became celebrated for their disturbing and disorientating
optical effects, yet undeniable and surprising beauty.
in the seminal exhibition The Responsive Eye at The Museum
of Modern Art, New York in 1965 established her as an artist of
the first rank. This position was confirmed at the Venice Biennale
in 1968 when she became the first British contemporary painter and
the first woman to win the International Prize for painting.
Since then Riley has remained at the forefront of
developments in contemporary painting, making highly distinctive
works which are abstract and non-descriptive, but which offer visual
experiences closely related to those found in nature. She has commented:
'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. Vision can be arrested,
tripped up or pulled back in order to float free again. It encounters
reflections, echoes and fugitive flickers which when traced evaporate.
One moment there will be nothing to look at and the next second
the canvas seems to refill, to be crowded with visual events.'
While celebrated for her black and white paintings
of the early 1960s, Riley has continued to advance her art. At the
heart of this development has been her investigation of the role
of colour. Since late 1967, when her first colour stripe paintings
appeared, Riley has sought to articulate an abstract language in
which relations of colour and form generate a range of visual sensations.
The impression of light in all its chromatic variety and intensity,
and a sense of subtle and sometimes vibrant movement, are among
the complex perceptions yielded by her paintings. By turns lyrical,
powerful and serene, her work is underpinned by her adherence to
the French nineteenth-century master Eugène Delacroix's observation:
'the first duty of a painting is to be a feast for the eye'.
Having recently turned seventy, Riley occupies an
unusual position within the field of contemporary art – a
senior artist whose work, with each new development, generates fresh
interest. Her recent wall-drawings, for example, eschew paint and
colour, weaving intricate compositions entirely using line. Respected
both by her peers and by a younger generation of artists and students,
she is admired for her dedication to certain artistic ideals and
also as an incisive communicator about her own work.
This exhibition will be a comprehensive survey of
Riley's entire career to date and will include key examples of all
phases of her work. As such it offers the opportunity both to review
many early, celebrated paintings and also to see these afresh in
the context of works produced since then and up to the present day.
The exhibition is curated by Paul Moorhouse, Tate Collections
Curator, in close collaboration with the artist. It will comprise over
sixty paintings borrowed from public and private collections around
the world. A fully-illustrated catalogue will be published to coincide
with the exhibition.
Bridget Riley (b1931)
Movement In Squares 1961
Copyright 2003 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved.
Courtesy of Arts Council Collection, London