Bridget Riley

Pastorale, 1973
Acrylic on canvas
183 x 178 cm

Bridget Riley (*1931 London, GB), celebrated icon of op art, uses only five colours in set combinations in her "Pastorale" to challenge the viewing habits of the spectator. The colours are arranged in such a way that some appear to cling together more tightly than others. In the spectator's eye it is as if the vertical stripes have different widths. Illusion is central to op art. In her work, Riley creates the illusion of space and movement on a two-dimensional surface, following the same principles as fellow op artist Victor Vasarely (*1906 Pécs, HU; †1997 Paris, FR). Riley's paintings explore how colour and form work together to achieve a particular visual effect, and are based on visual stimuli that only combine to form an image in the spectator's eye. The spectator thus becomes part of the artwork, which requires his perception to become complete. Riley uses the titles of her works to introduce another aspect to reception. In her oeuvre we see such titles as "Pastorale", "Kiss" and "Hesitate", as well as purely descriptive titles sometimes, e.g. "Coloured Greys" or "Movement in Squares". Descriptive titles reduce reception to perception of the carefully composed visual stimuli, whereas textual titles leave room for visual associations.


© Bridget Riley