Bridget Riley: Paintings and Drawings 1961-2004

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Media Release: March, 2005. 

Next March, City Gallery Wellington offers New Zealanders the rare opportunity to see a rich and comprehensive collection of work by one of the world’s truly great artists.

Since the 1960s, when she burst onto the international art scene with her visually-charged black and white paintings, Bridget Riley has consistently produced work which has entranced viewers and kept her at the forefront of contemporary painting.

City Gallery Wellington director Paula Savage says: “Elizabeth Ann McGregor, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and myself have worked closely over the past two years with the British Council, London, to bring an exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work to the Southern Hemisphere. We are honoured that Sydney and Wellington are the sole venues in Australia and New Zealand for this Bridget Riley retrospective.”

Riley has the distinction of being a senior contemporary artist whose painting continues to develop in new directions, and whose work is still keenly tracked by younger artists. In 2003 Riley was the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Britain, London. Critics described the exhibition as “electrifying” and as “One of the most coherent, individual and powerful bodies of work in contemporary art.”

Working with a simple vocabulary of colours and abstract shapes, often on a massive scale (the largest work in Bridget Riley: Paintings 1961-2004 is more than 5 metres long), Riley produces paintings that shimmer and dance, generating sensations of light, movement and space, and creating emotional and physical experiences for viewers. As Riley has written: ‘The eye … should feel caressed and soothed, experience frictions and ruptures, glide and drift.’

Bridget Riley: Paintings 1961-2004 features 35 paintings and 70 works on paper, drawn from across the four decades of her career. The exhibition reveals Riley’s ongoing investigation of the possibilities of colour and form, from the blazing black and white paintings of the 1960s to the softer and more lyrical colour works of recent years.

City Gallery Wellington is also pleased to announce Ernst & Young’s involvement as principal sponsor of Bridget Riley: Paintings 1961-2004.  Ernst & Young CEO John Judge says: “Ernst & Young are delighted to join once again with City Gallery Wellington to make the best of international contemporary art available to New Zealand audiences.”