Bridget Riley

In the first century of the Christian era, in the reign of Tiberius, the historian Plutach tells us that a ship’s company, sailing past a small island close to Corfu, heard, in the depths of the forest, a strange lament: ‘Great Pan is dead!’ The light of a great age of European history seemed extinguished […]

The human mind, unlike the song of the birds, does not rise with the sun; it is alerted by the awareness that time is finite, and that every day has its close. Whatever we start, starts with an end. In this way the distant horizon is closer to us than our immediate existence; and we come back to the present only in order to make our own kind of start: a beginning towards the particular objectives in view.

The way of looking, which Bridget Riley articulates, is rooted in the pattern of our existence. The eye, as she employs it, is not the simple soul of the ‘formalist impasse’. It includes the intellectual perspective within which all our conceptual responses operate: the immediate identification of the object of attention; the transgresssion of its presence through interpretation; and on top gf it all – in the far distance, so to speak – the assertion of principles, to which the interpreting activity itself succumbs. No wonder, that the mind of the beholder is deeply disquieted by the arrival of the Great Pan…

Bridget Riley: Works 1959-78 [London, The British Council ISBN 0-950-6326-0-0] Robert Kudielka, 1978

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