Bridget Riley (b. 1931) is one of the most significant and original painters of our time. This Sunley Room exhibition focuses upon her most recent paintings and will enable visitors to investigate how Rileys work relates to the National Gallery
Two of Rileys works will be made directly onto the walls of the exhibition space. 'Composition with Circles 7' is a wall-drawing that Riley and her studio will create especially for the longest wall of the Sunley Room. A version of her wall-painting, 'Arcadia', will also be on view, which was last seen at Rileys major retrospective exhibition of 2008 at the Musée dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris. At the National Gallery, however, the painting will be recreated on a larger scale to relate better with the space.
While committed to abstraction, Riley has always had a deep interest in the Old Masters, looking at and learning their uses of colour, line and composition. Since her days as a student, the National Gallery has held a special place in the artists imagination. One of her first endeavours as an emerging artist was to copy the Gallerys Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?) (1433) by Jan van Eyck. The copy forms part of 'Bridget Riley: New Paintings and Related Work' and highlights that for her the past is not cut off from the present but is rather a live source of inspiration.
Since then, Riley has again and again returned to the National Gallery for artistic stimulation and guidance. From 1981 to 1988 she served on its Board of Trustees and in 1989 selected work for an exhibition in the 'Artists Eye' series. At the artists request, two paintings from the Gallerys collection will be included in the exhibition: Mantegnas Introduction of the Cult of Cybele at Rome (15056) and Raphaels Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1507).
The elegant serpentine forms of Raphaels saint and the dynamic processional rhythms of the Mantegna provide a historical precedent to Rileys most recent large-scale works on canvas. Examples of these paintings, which have introduced exciting new curvilinear rhythms and movements into her work, will also be exhibited, together with some of her earlier work and a selection of works on paper that will help visitors to understand her development and working process.
Born in London, Riley studied at Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Art. Known as one of the founding members of the Op Art movement, she worked initially in black, white and grey, introducing colour in 1967. Her first solo exhibitions earned her a reputation as a leading light in the British art world, whilst her inclusion in The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965 then brought international fame. Her art, which spans nearly six decades, has been widely exhibited all over the world.
An accompanying film will be shown in the Sunley Room cinema, where Bridget Riley will discuss her lifelong artistic relationship with the National Gallerys collection.