Bridget Riley’s paintings are developed carefully over time, the result of methodically working through pictorial variables such as colour, tone, scale, and rhythm. Studies are central to this process, allowing Riley to concentrate on the analysis and synthesis that lie at the heart of her working practice. Riley says, ‘Because my work is based on enquiry, studies are my chief method of exploration and my way into paintings’ (2005).
This volume richly illustrates the thinking that goes into Riley’s work through a selection of over 150 drawings, colour analyses, notations, scale studies and cartoons, most of which were exhibited at the artist’s recent seminal retrospective exhibitions in Edinburgh and London from 2019 to 2020 organized by the National Galleries of Scotland. The selection spans most of Riley’s working life, tracing the origins and evolving nature of her remarkable body of work. Riley’s beginnings are also documented through selected childhood drawings, work made during and immediately following her studies at Goldsmiths’ College and the Royal College of Art, and her early explorations into abstraction.
The artist’s working method is brought into high relief in a newly commissioned conversation with Riley and Sir John Leighton, Director of the National Galleries of Scotland. The text explores the cardinal moments in the artist’s practice and the impulses that bring her work into existence. The volume also includes four previously published texts dedicated to Riley’s studies and practice written by the artist herself, art historians, curators and museum directors, which shed further light on the enduring role of drawing and the process of exploration central to her work.