Kiss (1961) by Bridget Riley

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 19:08

Kiss (1961) is Bridget Riley’s first abstract painting. Riley describes Kiss and Movement in Squares, another black-and-white painting made at the same time, as ‘a very complete little group; almost a manifesto’. Both paintings came at the end of a period of great personal and artistic difficulty for the artist, during which she struggled to find her voice as a painter. Immediately before making these works, Riley had experimented with an entirely black painting. To her, that painting was a failure because it possessed no contrast, no opposition and therefore, as she saw it, no movement. By introducing contrast in the form of white in Kiss, Riley created tension, movement and rhythm – things that would continue to characterise her painting for the next six decades.

Bridget Riley, Kiss, 1961 © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved. Courtesy Bridget Riley Archive


I think they were beautifully aggressive. Contrast is the clash of cymbals, the exclamation mark, the strongest possible means. That I wanted; I felt very much at the time like making an extreme statement, or something violent, something that definitely did disturb.
Bridget Riley, 1995


Bridget Riley is at Hayward Gallery from Wednesday 23 October to Sunday 26 January.

Hayward Gallery is open 11am – 7pm every day except Tuesdays when the gallery is closed, with late night opening on Thursdays until 9pm.

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Bridget Riley is organised by the National Galleries of Scotland in partnership with Hayward Gallery.