What a very inspiring start to 2011 we've had... a trip to The National Gallery yesterday led us to two small but perfectly formed exhibitons... Firstly, Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Works.
This is a show where a number of the abstract artist's more well known pieces such as 'Arrest 3' (above) sits alongside some of her more recent works, most notably the very striking 'Composition with Circles 7', a huge mural made up of numerous large black circles which appear to bounce across and collide into each other on the longest wall of the Sunley Room. The scale of this painting, the simplicity of the circles and the sense of movement which Riley injects into them make it really quite a mesmerising piece.
And secondly, in complete contrast, a room dedicated to Ben Johnson: Modern Perspectives. Johnson is currently the artist in residence and the cityscapes that he creates are incredible (sadly lacking in human activity and projecting a somewhat sanitised view of the city but incredible nonetheless.) Each painting is made up of thousands of buildings, monuments, roads and waterways in tiny accurate detail (though they are not necessarily geographically precise) which can take many months, even years to complete. Currently working in the gallery on a view over Trafalgar Square 'Looking Back to Richmond House' Johnson and his team of assistants labour on a detailed process involving hand sketches, photographs, computer drawings, laser cut stencils and spray paint guns under the watchful eye of the gallery going public. It was intriguing to be able to watch him at work (not quite sure how he keeps his concentration in these circumstances!) and the end result is bound to be impressive.