23 April 2005

Eye bending

Rose and I went to check out the Bridget Riley show at the City Gallery today. The first thing usually mentioned about Bridget Riley is that it's pretty eye-bending stuff. My eyes are still sore. While this is what gets the punters (and there were plenty of them), it's far from all there is.

The main reason I wanted to check it out is because of the obvious links with Gordon Walters. I'm not really into abstraction, but I am very interested in hard-edge geometric abstraction, particularly stuff that involves figure/ground interaction. I'm not sure whether that was ever one of Riley's conscious concerns. She seems to have been consistently interested in opticality - repetition with slight variation to create the illusion of movement in the black and white works, and the same principle with the colour works (repetition with slight variation) to create various effects (movement, space, illusory colours). This means, of course, that the physical object is not the work of art. The art is literally in the eye of the beholder - it is an artefact of binocular sight.

The other reason I wanted to see the show is because it contains some preparatory works, which were fascinating, especially as several of the studies were for works in the show. One thing that surprised me was that the obsessive nature of it reminded me strongly of outsider art.

I strongly recommend getting along to see the show. It's well worth the $7. In fact I kind of wish I'd got a multivisit ticket.

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