Garden Party Guest List: Bridget Riley

Garden Party Guest List: Bridget Riley

By Tarleton Walmsley

Garden Party Guest List: A person, living or deceased, real or imagined, that always has an invited to our Party.

Garden Party's third birthday is around the corner, and being that I'm a real lover of nostalgia, I've been looking at photos from around the time of Garden Party's beginnings. Like all good things, it started with a Pinterest board filled with images for inspiration. There were a lot of interior design photos, potential products to carry, and so. much. art. Makes sense; I was an Art History major afterall. 

One artist that always comes to mind from that period of pulling imagery for GP inspo is Bridget Riley. I had never appreciated the Op-Art movement until discovering Riley's work. At the beginning of her career, she studied Pointillism, but by the 60s Riley had begun experimenting with a solely black and white color palette and larger, more robust geometric lines and shapes. This transition makes sense. I've always seen a kind of movement of the work in most Pointillism pieces, and by the time Riley was creating her Op-Art works, that movement took on its own optical revelry. Viewers expressed the feeling of seasickness or skydiving, where others found a meditative, almost hypnotic calm. To each their own, right?:) 

What I love about her early, 60s-era work is its response to certain cultural themes happening at the time--things like drug experimentation, especially with hallucinogenics, was at its peak and there was an ongoing interest in sci-fi. You can see those influences in Riley's work, and even now there remains a futuristic element to these pieces.

I personally get a little lost in Riley's work. In her piece "Intake," (above) for example, I noticed that once my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing, I immediately thought about the sound ocean waves make and felt very briefly transported to the beach. Then I thought about this phrase I've been saying a lot lately when people ask how I'm doing--"just riding that wave." From there, I thought about Jeff Spicoli saying all he needs in life are tasty waves and a cool buzz. Anyway, I think you get the point. My mind drifted and flowed into an interesting transaction of associative memories in a way that did ultimately lead to a sense of calm. And isn't that something we're all after these days?  


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