PAINTINGS 8. PRINTS
BRIDGET RILEY: SILKSCREEN
PRINTS AND GOUACHES 1963-2001 Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, Sat 2 Feb—Sat 6 Apr
Her paintings seem somehow to dance. For 40 years, Bridget Riley has been investigating how to ripple the still surface of the canvas. An early monochrome work, Shiver, was partly inspired by a girl in a beaded dress dancing ‘the shimmy’. In more recent years, that movement has been more akin to the subliminal visual wavering
caused by summer heat haze.
Riley’s early op art canvases are irreversibly ingrained on our cultural memory of the 608. As Andrew Graham-Dixon noted, ‘there was Twiggy, there was Mary Quant, there was Bridget Riley’. Her complex configurations of lines and curves were variously described as psychedelic, hard- edged and vertigo-inducing. They were also
impossible to ignore. After Riley’s work was included in the 1965 ‘perceptual abstraction’ showcase exhibition, The Responsive Eye, in New York, she was caught in a deluge of media attention, not least because her designs were lifted wholesale and printed onto groovy 60$ fashions. Feeling that her work had become overexposed and misrepresented, Riley set off in a new direction, slowly introducing colour inspired by natural forms into her paintings from 1966 onwards. No one could deny the visual impact of Riley’s early works or the lasting imprint they have left on contemporary art. However, this new exhibition of 40 silkscreen prints and a small selection of paintings from the last twenty years, provides a welcome opportunity to look at Riley’s oeuvre beyond
these early years.
Untitled (Based on ‘Blaze’), 1964
This small scale retrospective, curated by London’s Hayward Gallery, charts those departures, as Riley describes. ‘I think this exhibition reflects shifts of interest,’ she says. ‘Some of the prints use only black and white, some tinted greys, some more strongly coloured ones and then there are fully
saturated colour prints.’
Still a state of flux exists within these works, but this fluctuation is caused by the subtle effect colours have on one another. An evanescent yellow springs up between bands of red, white and blue, an imagined violet flickers between yellow, white and green.
But admirers of Riley’s early black and white works will find much to enjoy here, especially the series of seven prints on plexiglass. ‘These were done as an experiment in the 608,’ Riley recalls. ‘Of course then we were all very interested in using new materials and at that time printing on plexiglass was something that hadn’t been done before. The fact it’s on plexiglass gives a different quality to the whole object. it makes the work seem as if its floating, a feeling of suspension.’
As so often in the case of Riley, the viewer is implicated in the process of the painting’s energy. We
look upon the surface, it shifts, and starts to dance. (Sarah Lowndes)
COl [ABORATIVE PROJECI
MY FATHER IS THE WISE MAN OF THE VILLAGE
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 9 Feb-Sat 30 Mar
Barrett/Gray: My Father Is The Wise Man Of The Village
When you think of a hospital art project. there's a tendency to associate it with artist—led workshops encouraging patients to paint and draw. This could not be any further from the truth.
My Father Is The Wise Man Of Ir'ie VII/age takes its liZilltf-j from a neon work created by Nicky Barrett. a long term psychiatric patient. and artist Kate Gray. Their collaborative piece. along ‘Nlllt many others. is part of l-irsron. a unique and challenging project initiated by the lothian l lospital Art Consortium in association Willi Ai'tlink. Falling broadly intc
tun/o camps collaborations and commissions the two year project has involved over t‘.'.'ent\. artists and has produced scri‘e extraordinary results.
The exhibition at the l itiit:i1.’ti'ke.-t Gallery. curated by ll(;.(}.' Crombie. explains the ‘.'/hole Fusion pr'ogi'aiiiiize as it coir es to a close. along ‘.'."lllt an accomjianying pul;lication and DVD. On the collalpraticn side or things. lead artists Anne Elliot anl l<ate Gray have been working xvith psychiatric patients for one-r two years. A selection of these projects Will be installed in the gallery and represented on l)\.’l ). ii'icluding Sand/a Portrait Of A Bargain / lunter. a humorous. seven n‘.inute video work created by Sandra. Anne Him! and Michelle Naismitli. In another work. AS. and Kate (Bray have made a skeletal. room si/ed lr';tiit(3‘.'.'oi'k coiiipi'ising 70") models of pie'. iotis hospitals lli which AS. has resided.
"llie collaborative ‘.‘.oiks that l have chosen specificall, fit into that hyl irid of activity between community and fine arts.' says ()i‘oinbie. 'I want people to take it senor ist and not just look at it from the '."|(:'/./l)()llll that this is done by a psychiatric patient. What tends to happen is people
Itok for ant-:cdotal evidence of hon-x the work came about. I haven’t put any of that anecdotal t:‘.’l(lt;ll(10 into the exhibition. The irks stand up in their own right.'
Along ‘.‘.’lill the collaborations. eight commissioned artists created \.'."()l'l< in specialist-3d hospital departments. For the exhibition. these will be shown on DVD in a (:oiisti'ucter‘l cinema space. The artists spent time in the departments — Stephen Skr'ynka in urology and Dalziel -? Scullion in the chaplaincy department -— engaging with staff and patients before producing a site specific piece of work.
‘It has been useful for the artists as \v'xell as for the patients. as I think everyone had to assess ‘.'.’lt£il their working practice is and how it fits in,' says Crombie. ‘It has opened up areas of discussion that wouldn't have con‘e out through workshop activity. Its about trying to give a level of power to those individuals and a platform for them to have a voice.‘
The consensus of all those involved is positive and it is hoped that Hrs/on cOuId be used as a model of good practice for other institutions. But like most things. that ".‘Jlll depend on funding.
ll lelen Monaghan)
PHOTOGRAPHY HELLEN VAN MEENE - JAPAN SERIES
lnverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, until Sun 10 Mar .000
Manga animation. films such as Battle i Roya/e and stories of selling pants to ' businessmen have dispelled the notion of Japanese schoolgirls as doe-eyed innocents. Like most teenagers. they are aware of their sexuality and do not regard it as something to be denied or ashamed of.
Thus the prurient furore Surrounding Hellen van Meene's exhibition is arcane and seriously misguided. This is not an erotically charged exhibition for perverts, but a gentle study into the transitional journey from child to woman. A fraught process that revolves around image and identity and the desperate need to cast aside the blanket uniformity of childhood for the individuality of adulthood.
Van Meene has asked Japanese girls to pose for her and the re8ulting photographs represent an astute understanding of the vagaries of this emotional journey. To de-sex these girls would have rendered them unnatural and denied them their own identity. Van Meene has shot them in natural light. which authenticates their blunt beauty and enigmatic expressions. Although Van Meene contrived the poses. there is a remarkable lack of artifice as each girl occupies her role with a natural affinity. Lying over a bed. sitting on a bench or blowing bubblegum. the whimsical. moody yearnings and daydreams become almost tangible.
t. i i
Untitled from the Japan Series
Most of the girls are looking off camera or have their eyes shut. Those who do engage with the camera are not communicating availability but attitude. A chubby little girl with a bowl haircut sits with eyes closed like a mini Buddha while another in a strapless dress clutches an old worn-out toy and stares into the camera. caught on the cusp of growing up.
A girl in a kimono. her hair spread Out into branches. looks like an Oriental Medusa or a drowned Ophelia and a girl with shiny black hair and white coat personifies the apple blossom tree behind her; pure. natural and beautiful. The last two photographs also highlight the synergy between the exhibition and the beautiful surroundings. a relationship that compliments Van Meene's technical approach. (Isabella Weir)
31 Jan-14 Feb 2002 THE LIST 79