Verve, Bridget Riley’s first ceiling painting in the British School at Rome was unveiled on 4 May 2023.
This is not the first time the artist has collaborated with the BSR. In 1996 the building designed by Edwin Lutyens hosted the exhibition Recent works on paper: Bridget Riley with some of her most inspiring works. The pieces displayed were intended to reflect on the concept of the pleasures of sight, and how Bridget Riley painted to “make visible” that moment when, observing the landscape, nature first appears to us revelatory and priceless, and in a second moment it can appear futile and transitory: similarly in her paintings, with colours juxtaposed in defined groups, it was possible to see nothing, only to see the wonder revealed in the next moment.
More recently, since 2016 she has endowed The Bridget Riley Fellowship, which provides an opportunity for a young painter to spend six months at the BSR to develop their work.
The awards are open to those of British nationality, and those who have been working professionally (after having graduated) or studying at postgraduate level for at least the last three years in the UK.
Previous Bridget Riley Fellows at the BSR are:
Catriona Gallagher 2023
Barbara Walker 2022+2020
Lara Smithson 2022
Milly Peck 2021
Phoebe Boswell 2019
Oona Grimes 2018
Sinta Tantra 2017
In order to realise Verve, the artist’s studio team were in Rome through April 2023, working daily on a specially designed two-level scaffold and using a portable laser scanner sourced in consultation with our Chair of Architecture, Bob Allies, to install the work. Before beginning the work of painting the artist’s design, the ceiling was hand-sanded and reskimmed by a team of Italian specialist workmen in order to achieve the smoothest possible finish. While they were working in the building the studio team were eating lunch daily with our community and sharing their experience of painting onto a vaulted ceiling. The whole project has been an excellent opportunity for the Italian and British teams to contribute and work together to realise the artist’s vision.
Bridget Riley has created many murals and wall paintings but Verve is her first ceiling painting. The large-scale work, painted with her ‘Egyptian palette’, will be viewable by the public once a month. It will be possible to reserve a spot through the following links:
More appointments will be provided soon.
Bridget Riley, Artist, said: “I would like to thank the British School at Rome for its invitation to paint the vaulting barrels of Edwin Lutyens’ beautiful ceiling. It was the beginning of an exhilarating visual chase. Exhilarating but not without hazard. Through many pleasurable challenges, encouraged by Mark Getty’s enthusiasm, I pursued this perceptual adventure and played my ‘colour acoustics’ with great delight. Looking up, the colour of the skies offers a glimpse of nature in her most promising and serene mood.”
Donwload the press material here: tinyurl.com/ynfzx3ta
17 May, the New European: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/bridget-rileys-hymn-to-the-power-of-sight/
9 May, The Art Newspaper: https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2023/05/09/bridget-rileys-bold-ceiling-painting-british-school-of-rome
8 May, Artnet News: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/bridget-riley-verve-2295911