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Painting with Two Verticals 3

Painting with Two Verticals 3
signed and dated 'Riley 05' (on the turnover edge), signed, inscribed and dated 'PAINTING WITH TWO VERTICALS 3. Riley 2005' (on the canvas overlap), signed again, inscribed again and dated again 'PAINTING WITH TWO VERTICALS 3. Riley 2005' (on the stretcher)
oil on linen
76 1/4 x 104 in. (193.7 x 264.2 cm.)
Painted in 2005.
with PaceWildenstein, New York, where acquired by the previous owner in 2007.
Their sale; Christie's, London, 7 October 2017, lot 217, where purchased by the present owner.
P. Moorhouse, exhibition catalogue, Bridget Riley: New Paintings and Gouaches, London, Timothy Taylor Gallery, 2006, pp. 14-15, 46, exhibition not numbered, illustrated.
M. Prather, exhibition catalogue, Bridget Riley: New Paintings and Gouaches, New York, PaceWildenstein, 2007, pp. 10, 36-37, exhibition not numbered, illustrated.
C. Wiggins, exhibition catalogue, Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work, London, National Gallery, 2010, pp. 33-34, fig. 21.
R. Kudielka (ed.), Bridget Riley: The Complete Paintings Vol.3 1998 -2009, London, 2018, p. 1118, no. BR 425, illustrated.
London, Timothy Taylor Gallery, Bridget Riley: New Paintings and Gouaches, June - July 2006, exhibition not numbered.
New York, PaceWildenstein, Bridget Riley: New Paintings and Gouaches, November 2007- January 2008, exhibition not numbered.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Director, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

A rippling, curvilinear network of aquatic blues and apricot, Bridget Riley’s Painting with Two Verticals 3 belongs to the artist’s most advanced development of new curve paintings. With these paintings Riley reintroduced vertical divisions to contain and rhythmically stabilise the dynamism of the curving elements. From 1997, Riley departed from her previous perceptual investigations in stripy chromatic dissonances, in favour of composing a series of lilting curves. Based on a sixth of a circle, these snaking forms are worked into a stringent system of diagonal vectors, undulating in flat, abstract space, blurring perceptual boundaries between figure and ground, interlocking shapes, and colour variations. Painting with Two Verticals 3 reveals a rhythmic interweaving of serpentine geometries, as diagonally aligned lozenges are disturbed by overlapping, alternately coloured counterparts in a tapestry of the dizzying spatial relationships so characteristic of Riley’s oeuvre.

Riley’s aesthetic clarity is not a simple coincidence. With a meticulous planning process comparable to that of Matisse with his large-scale paper works, Riley uses preliminary cut-out models of the final painted composition to map out spatial relationships. This initial investigation into emphatic axes, chromatic schemes, and formal undulation results in the rendering of advanced chromatic complexities of optical perception. There is a discourse between Riley’s curves and the rhythmic movement of Matisse’s figures. Writing on Matisse’s La Danse, 1909-10 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg), Riley noted that ‘arms and legs, whole bodies even, are lengthened and shortened as the development of the rhythm ... The group, subject to the overall organisation of colour and rhythm and entranced by the act of dancing, lose their separate identities and become one pictorial form, one organic unit’ (B. Riley, quoted in exhibition catalogue, Bridget Riley Paintings and Drawings 1961-2004, Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004, p. 109). Similarly, the interplay of diagonals and curves in Painting with Two Verticals 3 culminates in an overriding rhythmic momentum.

Indeed, Riley’s new curve paintings have often been described as sensuous. In a conversation with Paul Moorhouse, Riley discussed the exceptional freedom she finds in the curve. The artist agreed that the curve is associated with the human body but she is hesitant to argue that the curve is inherently sensuous – ‘there’s a difference between association and the sensation generated by something. One is cognitive and the other is about feeling. I think that feeling is the more important one to me’ (B. Riley quoted in exhibition catalogue, Bridget Riley: The Curve Paintings 1961 – 2014, London, De La Warr Pavilion, 2015, p. 47). Painting with Two Verticals 3 represents the manner in which curves have been a powerful vehicle for Riley to study such a visual sensation of feeling. This practice represents the new lyrical freedom that the artist applied to her enquiry into pictorial abstraction, and a significant shift from her earlier work.

Whilst the viewer is invited to reflect upon the abstract nature of the composition as a perceptual game, deciphering the foregrounded dissections of curves at unexpected angles and chromatic pitches, Riley’s work also conjures emotional responses from the depths of its structure. With its turquoise and deep sea-blue resonating with the brighter colours of the orange and beige, Painting with Two Verticals 3 conjures images of beached paradises, or else the glowing warmth of a summer afternoon. In stirring figurative recollections and expressive responses, Riley creates a work that demands endless contemplation, reflection and interpretation, forming an immersive world out of mystifying abstraction.

‘The sensations [the curve paintings] generate belong to all of us; those sensations of shine and shimmer are amongst our most common visual experiences. By recognising that what I had brought about in a purely abstract context was something that, in ordinary life, we share, though mostly unconsciously, it therefore became valid.’ (B. Riley quoted in ‘Bridget Riley in Conversation with Lynne Cooke’, exhibition catalogue, Bridget Riley, Paris, Musée d’Art moderne la Ville de Paris, 2008, p. 147).

We are very grateful to Philip Clark, Bridget Riley Studios, for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.

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