Bridget Riley returns to Hayward Gallery

POSTED: Friday, November 1, 2019


In its third solo show of Bridget Riley’s work, London’s Hayward Gallery is celebrating her 70-year career in ambitious style – with the most extensive and comprehensive exhibition of her work to date.


06 Installation View Of Bridget Riley At Hayward Gallery 2019 Bridget Riley 2019 Photo Stephen White Co 

Installation view of Bridget Riley at Hayward Gallery 2019 © Bridget Riley 2019 Photo: Stephen White & Co.


One of the UK’s greatest living painters, Riley is best known for her abstract black and white paintings, which came to be defined as Op art and a visual symbol of the 1960s.


Bridget Riley Blaze 1

Bridget Riley, Blaze 1, 1962. © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved. Photo © National Galleries of Scotland 

Bridget Riley Pause 1964 

Bridget Riley, Pause, 1964. © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved.


Tracing both the origins and evolving nature of her pioneering approach, this exhibition builds on the long-standing relationship between the artist and Hayward Gallery, which dates back to 1971.


After receiving the International Prize for Painting at the XXXIV Venice Biennale in 1968, Riley’s ground-breaking 1971 exhibition, Bridget Riley: Paintings and Drawings 1951-71, was both the first UK survey of her work and the first large-scale exhibition at Hayward Gallery devoted to a contemporary British painter.


This latest collection sees them team up once again – in partnership with National Galleries of Scotland – to bring together Riley’s best-known canvases and early pieces as well as recent wall paintings and rarely-seen figurative works. More than 200 works and 50 key paintings by the 88-year-old British artist are on display, which are organised thematically rather than chronologically, and draw attention to the interests and themes that recur throughout her entire career.


Highlights include her iconic black-and-white works of the 1960s (Kiss, 1961, Movement in Squares, 1961 and Blaze 1, 1962), an extensive range of colour canvases (among them Rise 1, 1968, High Sky, 1991 and Aria, 2012) as well as Continuum (1963/2005), the only three-dimensional work that the artist ever realised. 


Bridget Riley Rajasthan 2012 Zwirner

Bridget Riley, Rajasthan, 2012. Installation view, Bridget Riley, David Zwirner, New York, 2015 © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner. Photo by Tim Nighswander

Bridget Riley High Sky 1991

Bridget Riley, High Sky, 1991. © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved

Bridget Riley Painting With Verticals 3 2006 

Bridget Riley, Painting with Verticals 3, 2006. © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved 


Over the past 70 years, Bridget Riley’s subject matter has been perception and the way in which we see. She first introduced colour into her work in 1967 and, since then, the way that colour behaves and the way that different colours interact has been one of her main concerns. More recently, Riley also introduced curves and diagonals to create more opportunities for contrast and juxtaposition.


Ralph Rugoff, Director of Hayward Gallery, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Bridget Riley back to Hayward Gallery with an exhibition that offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to experience works from the full span of her brilliant career. Her paintings transform the act of seeing into a festive occasion, something at once riveting and revelatory. Engaging every viewer in new acts of discovery, her work is not just vision-enhancing but life-enhancing. These are paintings that make you feel more alive as they reaffirm the link between seeing and thinking.”


Bridget Riley is at Hayward Gallery until Sunday 26 January.


*Main image credit: Installation view of Bridget Riley, Untitled (Measure for Measure Wall Painting), 2017 at Hayward Gallery 2019 © Bridget Riley 2019 Photo: Stephen White & Co