Bridget Riley (1931) is one of the most prominent representatives of post-war abstract painting. The starting point of the exhibition Bridget Riley: Looking and Seeing, Doing and Making is a visit she made to Egypt from 1979–to 1980. This trip had a profound effect on the development of her colour work.
Bridget Riley has made the selection of works with which she retraces the twenty-year creative period following that visit. The exhibition includes rarely shown preliminary work, drawings and studies, which reveal Bridget Riley’s day-to-day life in her studio. She explores the dynamics of colour, form, and pictorial space with great precision and playful ease.
Both Bridget Riley and Paul Klee drew artistic inspiration from their respective travels to North Africa. In 1914, Paul Klee travelled to Tunisia, where he experienced a “breakthrough into colour.” Later, when he went to Egypt in 1928, he was struck by the relationships between light and colour and the cultural landscape in the Nile Valley.
Bridget Riley visited Egypt in the winter of 1979/1980. The tomb paintings in ancient places of worship, the architecture, and the abrupt contrast between desert and vegetation in the Nile Valley had a lasting impact on her. She also studied the technique of Egyptian painting, which led her to develop the so-called Egyptian palette, consisting of seven colours: turquoise, blue, red, yellow and green, black and white.
The exhibition begins with the stripe paintings of the early 1980s, which are based on the Egyptian palette. It demonstrates how this artistic turning point reverberated in Riley’s work through the early 2000s.
Most of the 44 works displayed in the exhibition are part of Bridget Riley’s collection. They are supplemented with works from the Sammlung Lambrecht-Schadeberg, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen and the Kirkland Collection.
The 17 paintings and 27 studies illustrate a crucial period in Riley’s artistic development and offer an extraordinary insight into the artist’s everyday working life.