Bridget Riley: Recent Paintings 2014-2017
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Art can be so complicated and full. It’s exhausting. It’s as if Bridget Riley has been hearing the art-loving public’s sighs of information overload for the past six decades. Since the 1960s, the big macher of op art has been making variations on the same basic dea: her abstract paintings have always been ‘about’ nothing. They’re just exercises in form, paint, structure and tricks of the eye.
This show of newish work is more of the same, but it’s hard to complain. The opening rooms of black-and-white paintings are peak Riley. Each is made up of near identical triangles, some equilateral, others with one curved edge. The clash of curve and line makes the work seem to shimmer and shake, your eyes can’t focus or take it in as a whole. It’s like looking at a vast landscape that you’ll never fully grasp. And that’s part of the point. Riley’s paintings give you the same feeling as looking at nature. They’re basic and simple, but comfortingly unknowable.
The rest of the show is made up of brown, mauve and green dot paintings. These don’t shimmer or move, they just exist as dotty little compositions. At first they’re a bit of a letdown after the heroics of the triangle works, but there’s a charm here, and the more time you spend ogling them the more they seem to come alive. With their muted colours they look like a completed game of Connect 4. They’re not brilliant, but in their quiet way they’re sort of triumphs of naff-all.
Riley doesn’t make eye candy, she makes eye pillows: spaces for your eyes to stop and rest. They’re little comforting breaks from the ocular violence of daily life, and we could all do with more of those.