Bridget Riley Studies: 1984–1997

Bridget Riley David Zwirner

David Zwirner reopens with an exhibition of studies by Bridget Riley in The Upper Room in the London gallery. The artist has selected a group of works from the 1980s and 1990s that reflect the connection between the writings of Paul Klee (1879–1940) and her own understanding of abstract painting. As Riley has noted, “Paul Klee was of seminal importance to me because he showed me what abstraction meant.”1 Late works by the Bauhaus master will be on display concurrently on the ground and first floors.

On view in the exhibition will be working studies that show the movement from ‘stripes’ to ‘rhomboids.’ In the earliest of these works, Riley begins to cross her stripes with short diagonal elements, to move the eye around, across, and through the pictorial space, leading to the development of a new visual form, her ‘rhomboid’ paintings.

In 2002, Bridget Riley co-curated Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation at the Hayward Gallery, London, with Robert Kudielka. As Riley wrote in the catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition, “Klee is unique in that he demonstrated more fully [than his contemporaries] that the elements of painting are not just a means to an end, but have distinct characteristics of their own…. A colour in a painting is no longer the colour of something but a hue and a tone either contrasting with other hues and tones or related in shade and gradations. And, very importantly, forms do not act as substitutes for bodies in physical space but are spatial agents in the picture plane.”2

The rhomboid paintings, for which these studies were prepared, constituted a new learning phase for Riley. When they were first exhibited, some thought that the rhomboids were painterly strokes, enlarged and formalised, deriving once again from Georges Seurat, and there was a certain truth in this observation. The integration of these forms was a very conscious effort by the artist to rediscover pictorial craftsmanship and to increase the means at her disposal. Seen together, these works embody Riley’s powers of invention—and even reinvention—and her ongoing engagement with the understanding of abstract painting.

Duration 16 June 2020 - 31 July 2020
Times Mon-Fri 11am-6pm by appointment only - please visit website to book
Cost Free
Venue David Zwirner
Address 24 Grafton Street, London, W1S 4EZ
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