Bridget Riley is a painter of pattern. Her recent retrospective show at the Hayward Gallery Illustrates a lifetime devoted to colour and pattern and how the use of both of these elements play with our vision.
As an artist picks his way along, rejecting and accepting as he goes, certain patterns of enquiry emerge.
She emerged onto the art scene in London in the 1960’s when Pop art was new. She managed to imbue the viewer with the visual sensation of a psychedelic drug induced trip, so loved by the hippy generation. There is an illusory quality to the pleasure of sight, where one’s eyes do not focus on any particular area but ‘buzzes’ around her work.
When she returned to colour, she began by limiting the hue as she had done in her pointillist experiments. Only later did her use of colour become higher key. Once she had decided on her desired pattern, she embarked on full size mock-ups sticking, grouping and re-sticking strips of paper to a canvas, testing combinations of pattern, repetition and colour to find the most desired visual effect. As her work became more complex, with many shapes and colours, her method changed to piecing the rough designs together like a jigsaw on a large table, where trial and error lead her to her final decision on how to construct her next painting.
Composition with Circles 1997-detail
Bridget Riley, work in process
Tremor 1962 - detail
Knowledge of her process has steered me toward the best course to creating my designs. I have found that using her method of working full size with prepared shapes is a good solution to envisage how well the pattern works.