The first time I was introduced to Bridget Riley’s work was during my early teens – I had just started secondary school, there was finally an entire room, class and timetable slot dedicated to drawing – that thing I really liked doing, you know? Primary school never really built on the whole art or art culture – not in a very formative way, at least. I’d be lying if I said that my exposure was great in secondary too – although that was mostly because of my teenage jackassery and general disinterest. Artists, to me, seemed like a bunch of stuck up, pretentious assholes trying to find – or force – meaning into a world where there isn’t any. Again, I’d be lying if I said that I still didn’t think along those lines – to a degree, at least – but over the last few years I like to think I’ve matured to a point where I can say “well, I don’t really see it myself but I respect your opinion.”
I think that’s why Bridget Riley’s work appealed to me back then – yes, shocking as it may have been that there is art-styles that don’t revolve around drawing your own face in the mirror. The work were bold and vivid, black-against-white patterns. Movement on a black surface in the most simple of ways. Riley’s work was among the first exposure to the world outside of mirror-portraits, pet-portraits or sitting across from someone while we drew eachother, and it’s one of these things that’s stuck with me – the pure simple technicality, the illusion of movement, tricks of the eye… seeing some of her work in person is always a nostalgic mess for me, because it immediately sends me back to the days back then – the gentle use of colour is nothing short of stunning.
Perhaps then this isn’t as much of an actual review as a literal re-viewing of her work, seeing it through older (and vaguely more experienced) eyes and still being able to appreciate the beauty of natural movement for what it is… well, beautiful. It all flows. I’m fairly certain that an actual art critic would be able to put my raw emotional data into a coherent, structured and frankly more concise text-wall of non-subjective fact.
Sadly, I’m not an art critic – and you should see this work if you ever drop by the Tate. If not to have a nostalgic meltdown then to appreciate the purely natural sense of raw movement. Do it.