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Arts Council Collection Launches Flashback Series with Bridget Riley Exhibition
Bridget Riley, Red With Red 1, 2007. Collection of the artist © 2009 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved.

LIVERPOOL.- Flashback is a major new series of Hayward Touring exhibitions from the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre. Taking as its starting point the Collection’s founding principle of supporting emerging artists through the purchase of their work, the series showcases world-renowned British artists whose works were acquired early on by the Collection. The monographic exhibitions combine early Collection works with new pieces sourced from the artists, giving a unique insight into the evolution of these key figures in British art.

The first exhibition in the Flashback series features Bridget Riley, one of the UK’s most influential contemporary artists. The show will open at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool this September, and will then tour to Birmingham, Norwich and Southampton. Riley is known for her distinctive and optically vibrant paintings that generate sensations of movement, light and space. She has a longstanding relationship with the Collection and the Hayward Gallery, having had solo shows at the Hayward in 1971 and in 1992. Riley also co-curated the Gallery’s 2002 Paul Klee exhibition, which attracted almost 130,000 visitors.

Flashback tracks her career from its beginnings in the early 1960s, to the ambitious and powerful works of recent years. Eight large scale paintings will be on show, with four coming from Riley’s personal collection. All three of the Collection’s holdings of Riley’s paintings are included. These are complemented by 30 works on paper that illuminate the working methods she has employed over her five-decade-long career. Many of these drawings and sketches have never been seen before.

A seminal work in the show is Bridget Riley’s Movement in Squares, which was purchased by the Arts Council Collection in 1962, the year after it was made. Consistently exhibited in museum retrospectives of her work, the work is credited by Riley as the beginning of her breakthrough into abstraction. Riley sees a direct correlation between her extensive studies in drawing from life and the development of this work, which allowed her to ‘trust the eye at the end of my pencil’.

Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: “We are delighted to launch the Flashback series with Bridget Riley, one of the most important artists working in Britain today, and an artist we have worked with throughout her career. Riley’s international reputation leads her more often to exhibit outside this country, so it is a particular pleasure that we are able to bring her work to four outstanding regional museums.”

An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition with a new text by Bridget Riley that is a very personal account of her approach to making work. This is the first text written by Riley about her work in many years. Also included is an essay by Michael Bracewell and a unique list of all works by Bridget Riley held in public collections in the UK – demonstrating how Riley’s work has been collected throughout the country for more than five decades.

The series is designed to highlight the artist’s work in collections around the country, and each venue that will host the exhibition was selected because of their own collections of Bridget Riley’s work. The show opens at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (25 September – 13 December 2009) and tours to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (6 February – 23 May 2010), Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (5 June – 5 September) and Southampton City Art Gallery (17 September – 5 December).

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