Film: 5923

Art + Architecture | 1970 | Sound | Colour

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Synopsis:

The work of the British female artist and painter Bridget Riley 1970's

Her abstract works and her painting of them accompany voice-over and narration about her concern with optics, colour, and perception.
A hand paints white with a wide brush. Red, green, and blue diagonal stripes. Yellow, turquoise, and mauve stripes. Red and grey- blue horizontal stripes or bands. The hand painting again. Black and white geometric pattern. The hand again. Title. A middle-aged Bridget Riley painting, concentrating. Different coloured stripes. B&W geometric patterns. Riley in her studio painting a huge canvas white, Riley wearing white overalls. Coloured bands or stripes. B&W geometric patterns. Similar, spiralling. Bright disks. Black dots on a white background. B&W spiral pattern. Black dots again. (Riley talks in voice-over about dazzling light she saw in the south of France.)
Montage of brightly coloured dots which resolves into a pointillistic landscape scene. Montage of black dots on a white background. Riley, differently dressed, hangs a large piece of paper. She pins it up and steps back.
Pan: abstract use of colours- narrator tells us Riley's art is 'the exploration of the possibilities of vision'. Riley's face as she contemplates. Several geometric compositions hang on the wall. Riley's eyes, narrator talking about experiments to see what the eye can see. Geometric patterns. Riley cuts pieces of paper and paints them. Closer. She paints one piece half brown and makes a note(?) of it in the other half. A corner of the studio-jars and artwork. (Narrator says the experiments are intended to bring something uncalculated into being.) Riley mixes paint on her table or work top. Her face. She lifts the paint pot. Her face again. And pours the paint into a jar, narrator talking about producing art to which the eye would respond as to 'real' life. A pointillistic landscape. A B&W (possibly charcoal) drawing of a hazy landscape. A more colourful landscape. Montage of similar B&W and colourful images. Waves, rippling water. Riverbank flowers. A mountain valley. Snowy peaks. A stream seen through trees. A leafless wood. Farmland stretching to mountains on the horizon. Seaweed on the shore. Waves pouring over rocks. Montage of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, in which he developed stylized patterns to represent natural phenomena we cannot see- such as wind, currents. A drawing by Van Gogh, using the same idea. A similar landscape(by Van Gogh or Riley?). Dashes and dots. A pointillistic river scene- a copy by Riley of the original by Seurat. Riley flicks through a book on Italian Futurism. We look at one ot the images- a reproduction of a painting by Banev(?) which experiments with optical illusion. Montage of futuristic artworks including ones by Bucholi. Riley takes a piece of wavy- sided wood and places it on a canvas or piece of paper. Closer. She draws along the outline. Closer. A finished work using undulating lines, Riley talking about the art's 'presence', and how repetition of wavy shapes acts as an amplifier. Riley outlining again. Undulating lines producing a wave or ripple pattern. Similar, but larger and brighter. Similar, but smaller. Vertical wavy lines. An expanding white line on a black background.
As we see the full work- a massive black and white geometric painting- we realise the camera was travelling up it- a woman inspects the painting. Horizontal lines on a diamond- shaped canvas or painting. Wildly wavy lines on another picture. A running stream. Shifting sand or mist. Undulating corn. Closer. Flies near a tree. Sunlight and tree branches and leaves. Bubbling water. Black dots- drawing preparating for a painting. Orange egg-shape as part of a geometrical picture. A swirling mass of starlings. Black triangle shapes- a montage of similar shapes and the paintings they form- all of these images convey a sense of movement or an Escher-like quality of trompe de l'oriel(?).
Montage of other B&W shapes- squares and circles, lines, the spiral pattern seen earlier. Bright discs as the narrator asks questions about colour's energy, shape, movement. Montage of circles composed of several differently coloured bands. Montage of pictures featuring these circles. Jars of paint. Riley concentrating as she paints. She paints stripes stripes on a piece of paper, saying colour as light and paint are two different things. Her face. Her painting on the workbench, as she talks about Monet's and Seurat's paintings breaking up different colours so they only merged optically, i.e.: in the process of seeing them. Brightly coloured stripes set in patterns- a montage of various shapes executed by Riley. A mass of tree trunks, Riley saying colour hovers halfway between distance and one's eyes. Montage of more stripes, giving an illusiory quality as Riley comments on this. A huge striped canvas is hauled by two men up to the first floor of a Georgian terraced house, Riley commenting that a painting is an 'invented space', independent of nature. The men manouevre the painting inside a room. Riley looks at the work. She studies it more closely, her voice-over talking about focusing and space. Montage of horizontal and vertical coloured bars in different paintings. Riley looks at colour cards in her studio, in v.o. discussing colour groups. Coloured cards placed on a work top. Montage of more stripy works illustrating what Riley says about what's at the canvas serving to make one see more.
Flowers in her garden- beyond we see into the house and Riley and three others (family? Assistants?) all working on a work top in her studio. Riley looks up amd smiles. (The others are assisting her work). Riley draws lines on a canvas to indicate where colour will go. Riley and the others hard at work, her vo talking about colours carefully chosen to harmonize or contrast. One of the assistants fills in something with paint. Wider shot. Close-up of a female assistant at work. A male assistant. Riley and assistants busy in the studio. Close-up of the female assistant. Riley looks up. One of the men carefully painting a line. Riley and the others from another angle, Riley continuing, in vo, to talk about colour. The studio hung with paintings, Riley and two assistants working on one wavy-stripe painting. Close-up of the finished article. Riley dips her brush in blue paint. Her face, vo discussing 'maximum juxtaposition' achieved by hard-line edges and thin shapes. Riley and a male assistant work on an upright canvas. Another angle. Closer, Riley's hand delicately paints the undulating lines. Riley painting. Leafless young trees (almost pointillistic).
Similarly, brambles. Daisies. Flowers in a breeze. Gently rocking waves. Shadows and shapes in a pool or stream. A pile of books on Monet, the bottom one open on Monet's pond at Giverny. Montage of water lillies from the books, accompanied by a quotation from Proust.
Beetles on a real pond. Pond plants. Bare bushes by a pond. Thin tree trunks in a wood (a stripe effect). Grass stems. The lines from one of Riley's works. Another. Riley working on a canvas. Seen in the background as a male assistant works on another. Close-up of his face. Riley painting. Her attentive face. The canvas she is painting when complete. Wider shot, in the studio. Riley studies colour cards in her studio.
Horizontal, undulating lines of one of her pictures-part of a montage. Colour montage: green, orange, violet, mauve, then more stripes. (Her vo talks about the pleasure of sight and the awareness of the condition of being alife.)
Riley paints a large canvas white. Another angle, credits superimposed. Riley and her assistants in the studio (named as: Vicky Hawkins, Stephen Selwyn and Phillip Ward). Riley's face. She mixes paints. Riley takes her wave- outlining board. She stands back from one of her works. Riley washes out her paint-mixing bowl. Closer. B&W circles from one of Riley's works. Colourful undulating stripes from another. Her signature.


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