Bridget Riley: Recent Paintings 2014-2017 at David Zwirner
Bridget Riley is the mother of op-art. She shot to fame so quickly in the 1960s that, when visiting New York in 1965 for her first US solo show, she noticed on her drive from the airport that many of the clothes on display in shop windows featured patterns inspired by op art and – in some cases – were even taken directly from her artwork.
This “success” became something of a poisoned chalice for Riley, who felt early on that her work had been commercialised and misunderstood in many quarters. At the least, the most common interpretation of her art anchors her firmly to the social and visual culture in which she came of age; a reading that doesn’t allow for the scope of her long career or the important theoretical component of her practice.
Her new show at David Zwirner, however, reveals that Riley is still working with as much vibrancy and critical thought as ever. Like Rachel Whiteread or Robert Ryman, Riley is an artist whose practice has been remarkably consistent over the years. Perhaps aware of the complex associations of her career’s legacy, Riley’s latest pieces interrogate her own practices. In places, she has returned to a monochrome palette for the first time since she first introduced colour into her art in 1967. The results are powerful, mind- and eye-bending canvases, which follow an internal logic of pattern that is at once obvious and elusive.
The other body of work on view engages with the disc, a new geometric preoccupation of the artist’s. Some of these pieces are painted directly onto the wall of the gallery, challenging the viewer’s conventional understanding of the picture plane and the separation between viewer, gallery space and art object. Reminiscent of Damien Hirst, perhaps, but far more sophisticated, Riley uses an unexpected colour palette that lends these dots an elegant air, pushing at the boundaries between art, design and decoration.
Bridget Riley’s new works show that she is still a master of her medium, engaging and testing the viewer’s gaze in equal measure. Immersive and intriguing, this is an exhibition worth getting lost in.
Photo: Installation shot of Bridget Riley: Recent Paintings 2014-2017 at David Zwirner
© Bridget Riley 2017, all rights reserved. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
Bridget Riley: Recent Paintings 2014-2017 is at David Zwirner from 19th January until 10th March 2018. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.