Monday, 12 October 2009

Bridget Riley Flashback @ Walker Art Gallery

So disgusted was I by the hoards of painting photographers that I forgot my primary purpose for wandering down to the Walker on Sunday. Although I fully intended to have a good ol’ explore, I mainly wanted to see what was going on with the Bridget Riley exhibition.

Now, I’m not a particular fan of Riley. She’s one of those archetypal artists, like Rothko, that you cannot escape having encountered during secondary school art class. “This is Op Art,” Ms. Bull would dutifully explain,”doesn’t it make your eyes go funny.”

The first thing I noticed was that the exhibition was startlingly small. The reading room, come biography gallery, was at least half the size of the space dedicated to the exhibition itself. Although containing some wonderful large scale canvases, the number of sketches and studies makes me feel as if the curator desperately needed to take up space. This isn’t particularly endearing when it was quite a small space to begin with.

However, just because this does not feel like the major exhibition we’ve been promised, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. The whole thing works as quite a nice little taster of Riley’s catalogue. The scintillating, depth-less beauty of her canvases work well when compared to each other.

Riley’s trademark hypnotic abstraction is pleasantly incongruous in the wonderful trad-collection of the Walker Art Gallery.

(... and I only saw one person taking a photograph of a painting, and they looked suitably, forgivably sheepish.)

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