Flagship gallery show in Edinburgh for works of artist Bridget Riley

Dozens of dazzling paintings have been installed in Edinburgh’s flagship art gallery for a celebration of one of Britain’s leading abstract artists spanning seven decades.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 6:00 am

The biggest exhibition dedicated to Bridget Riley for more than 15 years has taken over two floors of the Royal Scottish Academy building on The Mound.

One of the biggest exhibitions mounted by the National Galleries of Scotland in modern times, the show recalls how Riley became one of the leading figures in the 1960s Open Art movement, which came to prominence in the 1960s when growing numbers of artists began to use geometric forms to create optical effects.

Some of her black and white and colour paintings takes up entire walls in the gallery, while one room offers an insight into the painstaking preparations Riley has made to create her work over the years.

Bridget Riley's High Sky, 1991 Oil on canvas

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The exhibition features work created by the 88-year-old artist as far back as her teenage years in the 1940s, some of which are doing on public display for the first time, while the most recent painting was made just a few months ago.

She has spent around three years planning the exhibition with the National Galleries of Scotland, which has hailed Riley as “one of the most original artists of our time.”

Highlights of the exhibition, which runs until the end of September, including loans from the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tokyo’s Museum of Modern Art.

Born in London in 1931, Riley’s father ran a family printing business, which he relocated to Lincolnshire in 1938. When the war broke out the following year her family moved to Cornwall, where she developed a fascination with the changing weather conditions, including the light and cloud formations.

Movement in Squares, 1961

The cottage she lived in was shared with an aunt who had studied at Goldsmiths’ College in London, where Riley herself went on to study from 1946-52, before attending the Royal College of Art. Some of the work she created during her studies is featured at the end of the exhibition/

Curator Lucy Askew said: “We really wanted to bring together the breadth, wealth and richness of Bridget Riley’s practice, give people in Scotland the chance to see that a remarkable and influential artist she is - and one that is still very much at the peak of her powers at the age of 88.

“Her work is always about both looking back and forward. This exhibition is very much about the origins of her practice, where she has come from and how her work has evolved, from the very start of her career to work from this year.

“Bridget Riley is an artist with a very universal appeal. She has an ability to speak to people whatever their backgrounds or age. She wants people to literally open their eyes.

“It feels like a really good time to review and see her work again. We are living in a very visually stimulating era. She is an artist whose work is very much about how we see the world around us.”