Diary… Bridget Riley screws with your eyes

Having double vision adds value to a Bridget Riley exhibition

To the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank for the Bridget Riley retrospective exhibition.

Things I scribbled down include:

  • Immense scale of pieces. Really big. Some of them whole walls.
  • They challenge the ‘way’ we see? The images change the longer you look at them, so you can never be sure that what sits on your retina is not just imaginary or a byproduct of your mega-concentration. Look at it long enough and you’ll see a face on the ‘facelesss’ man pictured bottom right in the collage below.
  • You also look for patterns and puzzles to work out. I tried to imagine this one as a five-stanza poem, but couldn’t find the secret ‘code’.
Can you crack the code?
  • School kids love this stuff.
  • Having double vision, as I do, doubles the experience. Two exhibitions at once.
  • The young Riley was good at non-abstract drawing and painting.
The life of Riley, with cookies in the caff

We also learned from one of the gallery staff that Riley has a “team of wall painters” who arrive at an exhibition and physically recreate a given piece straight on to a white plaster wall.

These are produced under one-off reproduction rights that finish at the end of the exhibition.

Discovering this arty titbit put into my mind a dark, highbrow caper film in which a ‘Riley Wall’ is stolen on the day after an exhibition closes.

The crime has been commissioned by an evil, sadistic megalomaniac, who sits far away in his high-tech hideaway nursing his Bridget Riley obsession and carving bad technical drawings into the flesh of his young, drugged captives.

 ◆ See yesterday’s scraps

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