Bridget Riley CH CBE (born April 24, 1931 in Norwood, London) is an English painter who is one of the foremost proponents of pop art.
Bridget Riley’s mature style, developed during the 1960s, was influenced by a number of sources. It was during this time that Riley began to paint the black and white works for which she is well known. They present a great variety of geometric forms that produce sensations of movement or colour. In the early 1960s, her works were said to induce sensations in viewers as varied as seasickness and sky diving. From 1961 to 1964 she worked with the contrast of black and white, occasionally introducing tonal scales of grey. Works in this style comprised her first solo show in London in 1962 at Gallery One run by Victor Musgrave, as well as numerous subsequent shows. For example, in Fall, a single perpendicular curve is repeated to create a field of varying optical frequencies.
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Visually, these works relate to many concerns of the period: a perceived need for audience participation (this relates them to the Happenings, for which the period is famous), challenges to the notion of the mind-body duality which led some people to experiment with hallucinogenic drugs (see Aldous Huxley’s writings); concerns with a tension between a scientific future which might be very beneficial or might lead to a nuclear war; and fears about the loss of genuine individual experience in a Brave New World. Her paintings have, since 1961, been executed by assistants from her own endlessly edited studies.
Bridget Riley began investigating colour in 1967, the year in which she produced her first stripe painting. Following a major retrospective in the early 1970s, Bridget Riley began travelling extensively. After a trip to Egypt in the early 1980s, where she was inspired by colourful hieroglyphic decoration, Riley began to explore colour and contrast. In some works, lines of colour are used to created a shimmering effect, while in others the canvas is filled with tessellating patterns. Typical of these later colourful works is Shadow Play.
In many works since this period, Bridget Riley has employed others to paint the pieces, while she concentrates on the actual design of her work . Some are titled after particular dates, others after specific locations (for instance, Les Bassacs, the village in the south of France where Riley has a studio).
Following a visit to Egypt in 1980–81 Riley produced works such as the Ka and Ra series, which capture the spirit of the country, ancient and modern, and reflect the colours of the Egyptian landscape.