Bridget Riley Exhibition Explores Colour As Her Breakthrough Moment




Bridget Riley needs no introduction, as one of the UKs seminal abstract painters, with a career spanning six decades. A new exhibition at the Graves Gallery, which opens today focuses on her breakthrough moment in the development in her practice, the introduction of colour.

Following her first major abstract works in the early 1960s, Riley began to incorporate colour into her painting in 1967 by using a limited palette in works such as Rise 1 (1968), a highlight of Sheffield’s collection. The adoption of colour came to inform Riley’s developments throughout her ensuing career, adding a rich new dimension to her investigation of visual contrast and perception.

The exhibition will chronicle this unique moment of change, showcasing a carefully selected group of paintings and studies from 1967–72, which situate Rise 1 within the context of works made during this period.

 Bridget Riley first came to prominence in the early 1960s with her striking black and white paintings. In 1967 Riley began to incorporate colour into her work, creating Rise 1 – a highlight of Sheffield’s visual art collection – the following year. This significant moment of change coincided with Riley’s work being shown at the 1968 Venice Biennale, where she was to become the first British artist to win the International Prize for Painting. The adoption of colour came to inform Riley’s developments throughout her ensuing career, adding a rich new dimension to the artist’s investigation of visual contrast and perception. 

Describing her move into colour and the endless possibilities that this presents, Riley reflects: “Earlier I chose form, and later colour, which I believe to be more precise because it is closer to our experience of the real world. Unstable and incalculable, it is also rich and comforting. For a painter it is an ideal vehicle because it can be both a revelation and merely the surface of things”. 

This new exhibition, curated with work from the artist’s studio, will chronicle this unique moment of change, showcasing a carefully selected group of paintings and studies by Riley from this important period between 1967–85. Works on display alongside Rise 1 (1968) will include Late Morning 1 (1967), Little Diamond (1972), Vapour (1970), and a selection of works on paper. 

Kirstie Hamilton, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Museums Sheffield states:  Bridget Riley’s Rise 1 is one of the stars of Sheffield’s Visual Art collection and a real visitor favourite. We are delighted to have the opportunity to explore this hugely significant period in Riley’s work here at the Graves Gallery. 

Bridget Riley: Venice and Beyond, Paintings 1967-1972 Graves Gallery Thursday 18 February and continue until 25 June 2016 


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