David Zwirner is pleased to present recent work from the last four years by British artist Bridget Riley, her third solo exhibition with the gallery. Spanning three floors of the 24 Grafton Street location in London, the exhibition includes wall paintings and works on canvas as well as a group of related studies that focus on two themes: works in black-and-white and the disc. The works on view both extend and rework the artist’s previous investigations of these motifs in new ways.
Riley’s formally taut, abstract compositions yield a singular sense of visual pleasure for the viewer, a notion derived as much from the artist’s formative encounters with Old Master and Impressionist painting as from her early experiences with nature. Since 1961, she has focused exclusively on seemingly simple geometric forms, such as lines, circles, curves, and squares, arrayed across a surface—whether a canvas, a wall, or paper—according to an internal logic. The resulting compositions actively engage the viewer, at times triggering sensations of vibration and movement. This sense of dynamism was explored to great effect in the artist’s earliest black-and-white paintings, which established the basis of her enduring formal vocabulary. In 1967, Riley introduced colour into her work, thus expanding the perceptual and optical possibilities of her compositions. Though she has completed site-specific murals, beginning in 1983 with her work for the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, more recently, the development of Riley’s body of wall paintings, initiated in 2007 with Arcadia 1, underscores perception itself as her enduring subject. Painting directly on the wall, Riley collapses the distinction between figure, ground, and support, thus activating the picture plane in a different way from her works on canvas.