Bridget Riley

Cloudy Blue Greys with 'slashes' (orange, emerald, apricot, peach)

Gouache: 25.7(h) x 18.3(w) in /

65.4(h) x 46.4(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed lower left: Cloudy Blue Greys with ‘slashes’ (orange, emerald, apricot, peach) / Bridget Riley ’85

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BE 242

 

BRIDGET RILEY CBE

b. London 1931

 

Cloudy Blue Greys with ‘slashes’ (orange, emerald, apricot, peach)

 

Signed, dated and inscribed lower left: Cloudy Blue Greys with ‘slashes’ (orange, emerald, apricot, peach) / Bridget Riley ’85 

Gouache: 25 ¾ x 18 ¼ in / 65.4 x 46.4 cm

Frame size: 31 ⅞ x 23 ⅞ in / 81 x 60.6 cm

 

Provenance:

Juda Rowan Gallery, London

Private collection, UK

 

 

This painting belongs to a group of works, including Achaean, 1981 (Tate), inspired by a trip to Egypt that Riley made in the winter of 1979-80.  ‘During that trip she visited the Nile Valley and the museum at Cairo, and was able to study, at first hand, the tombs of the later Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings. Riley was astonished by the art she found in these ancient burial sites carved out of rock and located deep in the earth. These sacred places were dedicated to the dead, yet the tomb decoration was a vivid evocation of life and light. Though their creators had used only a limited number of colours – red, blue, yellow, turquoise, green, black and white – the walls of the chambers receded behind images in which could be seen a bustling affirmation of everyday existence. In looking at the art and craft of Ancient Egypt in the Cairo Museum, Riley recognised that the same colours had been used in all aspects of the Egyptians’ material lives, from the decorative to the purely functional’ (Bridget Riley, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London, 2003, p. 22). 

 

Having returned to London, Riley recreated and explored the fascinating new colours she had witnessed from memory, forming an ‘Egyptian palette’.  Abandoning the curve which had been a formal vehicle for the last six years, Riley instigated the return of a neutral stripe.  The importance of these works cannot be underestimated, ‘The stripe paintings made between 1980 and 1985 reveal a progressive structural reorganisation and in that sense they are an important watershed in Riley’s work. They form a passage from the perceptual – optically mediated – character of her art before 1980, to her work from the early 1980s onwards which addresses pure sensation directly: visual experience as a direct response to its source. Riley made this distinction clear as follows: ‘Right up to, and in some ways including, the stripe paintings I used to build up to sensation, accumulating tension until it released a perceptual experience that flooded the whole as it were. Now I try to take sensation as the guiding line and build, with the relationships it demands, a plastic fabric which has no other raison d’etre except to accommodate the sensations it solicits” (Ibid, p. 22).

 

Bridget Riley, Achæan, 1981

Oil on canvas: 239 x 202.3 cm

Tate Collection [T03816]

 

 

 

 


BRIDGET RILEY
CBE

b. London 1931

 

Born in London in 1931, Bridget Riley spent most of her childhood in Cornwall near Padstow in a cottage with her Mother, Aunt and younger sister, her father being away in the armed forces during the War.  From 1946-48 she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, where she was introduced by her teacher Colin Hayes to the history of painting and encouraged to attend a local life class.  Riley went on to study at Goldsmith’s College of Art from 1949-52 under Sam Rabin and then at the RCA from 1952-5 at the same time as Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson and John Bratby. 

 

A long period of unhappiness followed her graduation from the RCA as Riley nursed her father after a serious car accident and subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown.  After a number of jobs she joined the J Walter Thompson advertising agency. 

 

In 1959 Riley took part in a summer school in Suffolk organised by Harry Thubron, and meet Maurice de Sausmarez, who became her friend and mentor, going on to write the first monograph of her work.  On tour in Italy in the summer of 1960, Riley painted Pink Landscape, 1960, a key piece in her early development.  Having broken with Sausmarez and suffered an artistic crisis, her attempts to create an entirely black painting produced her first black-and-white works.  She held her first solo show 1962 at Gallery One, London and won the International Prize for painting at the 34th Venice Biennale in 1968, the first British contemporary painter and first woman ever to win. 

 

 

 

Post War BritishBridget Riley