'The pleasures of sight have one characteristic in common - they take you by surprise. They are sudden, swift and unexpected. If one tries to prolong them, recapture them or bring them about wilfully their purity and freshness is lost. They are essentially enigmatic and elusive'
(B. Riley, quoted in 'The Pleasures of Sight', in B. Riley, The Eye's Mind: Bridget Riley, Collected Writings 1965-1999, London 1999, p. 32).
Bridget Riley's 1980 Ka series heralded a breakthrough for the artist, manifesting a new approach to colour and its implementation in her work. The Ka paintings (the Egyptian word for spirit) were directly inspired by her visit to Egypt the previous year, where the artist had been struck by the colours of the ancient tomb paintings in Luxor and the artefacts she saw in the Cairo Museum. Painted in vertical stripes of what she called her 'Egyptian Palette', Ka 3 expresses the vividness of this experience in cool blues, dusky pink and saffron.
The extension of her palette also brought about a change in the formal structure of her work, marking the end of the curved paintings she had been working on prior to her trip. A paradigm shift in her practice, she felt the more straightforward pattern of simple stripes was necessary to best support the intensity of colour she had introduced. As with Riley's early work, she allowed black to punctuate the painting - in this case at three select intervals - structuring the work into its aesthetically taut and visually satisfying form.