Bridget Riley’s 50 year anniversary of her first exhibition is being celebrated by two different galleries in London. In 1967, she termed her revolutionary art work as ‘high voltage’ to art critic David Sylvester. Now, 50 years since her first commercial painting exhibition in Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One in London, her work is being celebrated. In honour of the anniversary, Hazlitt Holland in St James’s and Karsten Schubert in Soho are hosting an exhibition divided into two parts. The exhibition showcases 11 paintings, including the black and white ones she was famous for in the 60’s. She started using colour after 1966. Even though half a century has passed, the works of Riley are still alive through these exhibitions.
Riley’s turn to abstraction
Riley moved to abstraction in 1960, inspired by the pointillist technique that originated from Seurat. In her painting of the checker board, the painting appears to have gone haywire. This painting was displayed at the Arts Council’s Movement in Squares in 1961. As the image approaches the centre, it twists and twines, apparently falling into eternity. At an age when people strained to achieve depth and its illusion, Riley managed to display a whole new dimension.
Themes in her paintings
Riley had once stated that she wanted to portray the idea of arrows staring directly at viewers’ faces through her paintings. She aimed to create a stimulating feeling and did not want to impart pain. Still, the exhibition will showcase some of her best work, including zebra stripes and zigzags. The exhibition aims to focus on the states of mind and bodily feelings almost reaching the psychedelic culture of drugs of the 60’s. The paintings are spellbinding as she manages to pulsate and riffle with minimal means. The exhibition is open for all to view until the 13th of July 2012.