Bridget Riley ๐Ÿ–Œ๐Ÿ–ผโšซ๏ธ

Celebrating the 90th birthday of Bridget Riley, born on 24th April 1931

Born in Norwood, London, on 24th of April 1931, Bridget Riley is a contemporary artist who is know for her experimentation with optical art and usage of geometrical shapes and plain colours. Around 1960, she began to develop her signature style consisting of black and white geometric patterns that exploit the dynamic effects on the human eye of contrasting juxtaposition.

Bridget Riley is one of Britainโ€™s leading living artists and is best known as a pioneer of Op Art, a form of abstract art that focuses on the optical properties of colour, and of varied repetitions of lines and other motifs. Earlier exponents of what was later called Op Art were Victor Vasarely and Josef Albers, but Rileyโ€™s research interests went back to the work of the Post-Impressionists, Van Gogh, Cรฉzanne and Seurat. Their response to new scientific colour theories led to the use of broken brushstrokes and dabs of colours to create new optical effects.

Bridget Riley rose to prominence in London in the 1960s with her bold vision for a new language of painting based upon repeated geometric forms. Since then, she has become one of the leading artists of her generation. In honour of Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat, the latest project in a series of small-scale exhibitions by distinguished living artists at the Courtauld Gallery, here are 15 things you may not know about this renowned artist.

Bridget Rileyโ€™s works became a famous example of Op art in the 1960s. Her art is characterized by geometric forms, high contrast, dizzying optical illusions, black and white shapes, and vibrant colors. Despite the fact that her paintings are widely considered abstract, Riley herself emphasizes her role as a painter and not as an abstract artist. From her childhood on, Riley spent a lot of time looking at the world and nature around her. Her artworks represent her focus on visual experience. Even today, Riley still creates art that encourages the viewer to interact with it.

Riley’s work reflects her interest in philosophical and mystical themes

Riley’s artistic practice is grounded in a utopian, social vision. She views her art as an inherently social act, as the viewer completes the experience of the painting. This belief in an interactive art led her to resist the commercialization, and in her mind, the vulgarization of Op art by the fashion world.

Movement in Squares, Bridget Riley, 1961

Movement in Squares is an early seminal artwork by Riley regarded as a breakthrough into abstraction with geometric shapes. The rhythmic, repeated squares are compressed towards a vanishing line, giving the impression of dynamic movement. Riley has written about how this artwork was born from an experimental drawing, as something happened ‘on the paper that I had not anticipated’.

Rileyโ€™s influence is there in what I do, graphic and directional patterns are repeated and move in 360 degrees, stepping off the canvas or out of and away from a situation. To break out of the tedium of our existence, or perhaps just to enhance it somehow for a while.โ€™

Steeped in the paintings of the Impressionist, Post-Impressionists, and the Futurists, Riley dissects the visual experience of the earlier modern masters without their reliance on figures, landscapes, or objects. Playing with figure/ground relations and the interactions of color, Riley presents the viewer with a multitude of dynamic, visual sensations.

Nataraja, Riley, Tate Modern

Nataraja is a painting Inspired by a trip to India and the liveliness of local folk art, now exhibited at Tate Modern . The variety, balance ,and complexity of colours are amazing, with up to 20 shades of one colour across the canvas you can choose the colours you like best. The title refers to the Hindu god Shiva, as Lord of the Dance, with his numerous arms, rendered on canvas with contrasting colours and geometrical and dynamic shapes, typical of optical art.

Evoรซ 3 is a large horizontal painting, realised on two adjointing canvases, which has been created with irregular curved shapes using four solid and contrasting colours: green, blue, pink and white. This creative approach is a characteristic aspect of optical art.

Evoรซ 3, Bridget Riley, 2003, Tate Modern
The short YouTube video here refers to a recent exhibition organised by the Heyward Gallery of London on the usage of colour by Riley.

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