Manchester Art Gallery

Zephyr

Object description

Optically illusory or 'Op-Art' painting composed of wavy coloured lines, broadening and narrowing slightly to give the impression of diagonal ripples. Pale overall painting with yellow, blue, orange and white strips of colour. The title refers to the Greek god of the west wind, causing one to view the pictorial undulations as metaphors for wind pattern or movement. Bridget Riley's titles are carefully selected and often extend the meaning of the works; in this case they refer to the effect or sensation produced by natural phenomena, in referencing the immaterial but sensory movement of the wind. Riley speaks fondly of growing up in Cornwall and views the patterns and effects of nature as having a strong impact on her work.

Display label

Zephyr 1976 Bridget Riley born 1931 Acrylic on linen Certain geometrical patterns on a flat surface can create optical illusions which confuse the eye. 'Op Art', which exploits this scientific phenomenon, became fashionable in art and design in the 1960s. This style brought early fame to Bridget Riley, a leading practicioner of optical painting effects. Originally she worked in black and white and with stripes, she later used colour to make subtler, more complex works. Her visual languages stems partly from a Cornish childhood: reflections and rippling effects in nature inspire her. This painting's title, Zephyr, means a soft and gentle wind. The colours in it are very deceptive; they appear different at a distance than when close up. Purchased with the Wilfred R. Wood bequest 1977.3