My first thoughts on Bridget Riley are that she must have the patience of a saint. Her work is effectively ‘technical painting’ and as such must be very time consuming to do and test her patience to the utmost. Because the work is so technical I struggled at first to see past the production process and found myself studying the paintings up close to observe her technique. At this point I should say that through some good curation there is a small room dedicated to explaining her methodology and this was enlightening as it shows just how rigid it is. I’d go so far as to say relentless in its pursuit of perfection. A lot of these paintings are visual representations of Math and strangely the elements I like are where it appears her painting technique has let her down but when you analyse the ‘mistake’ you come to realise the error is in the code not the artist.
My overall feeling from this exhibition is that this is an artist who is struggling to leave her past behind. She needs to free herself from the artistic jail she has put herself in. There is a large painting in this exhibition that was painted on a wall and the wall was brought over from Germany for this exhibition. This painting is more recent and actually shows Bridget ‘breaking out’ of her own constraints with elements leaving the traditional box she works in. This is an encouraging sign for the future. The women I spoke to about the exhibition seemed to feel her rhythm more and so I wonder if this isn’t something to think about. I have a friend who is into jazz and I’m going to ask him to go to the show to see if he can feel it. Personally I’ve never had any so its not a surprise I can’t see it here.
Whilst going around the exhibition I couldn’t help thinking Bridget should be a print maker and I discovered afterwards she does indeed do a lot of that, I suspect I would like this work more than her paintings.
I’ll be honest, even as someone who has worked in a similar ‘technical’ way Bridget Rileys paintings are not for me. Most of them I would find hard to have on my walls because of the optical illusions (I’m not a fan of magic and trickery and thats really all these are) so prevalent. I should say however that there is some beautiful painting going on here and one or two would sit nicely on my walls without issue. I would certainly encourage everyone to attend and make their own mind up.
Many thanks to my friend Millie for being my driver on this occasion and for a lovely day. We liked Bexhill and both prefered it to Hastings and Eastbourne. It seems a little more relaxed and family friendly. All the workers serving teas, fish and chips etc were nice and helpful so there’s some good customer service. Millie wasn’t impressed by the ladies loos in De La Warr, so maybe a little work to do there guys. The De La Warr is a great venue and quite frankly Brighton should be ashamed of itself that it has nothing to match it.