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British Art Fair: Bridget Riley’s Healing Hospital Paintings and a Rare ‘Selfie’

Making waves: Bridget Riley, British painter and leading figure in the Op Art movement, in front of one of her geometric paintings

A rare Bridget Riley portrait painted in 1948 when the artist was 16-years-old is currently on show at the 30th British Art Fair being held at the Saatchi Gallery. The fully authenticated work is thought to be a self-portrait, and although it has not been possible to completely verify this is the case, the figure bears a striking resemblance to the young artist.

Despite being renowned for her ‘Op Art’ — eye-squinting abstract and geometric paintings —  drawing from life and figurative art were Riley’s speciality up until 1951. The work is part of a special presentation on Riley’s work to raise awareness of the charity, Paintings in Hospitals. 

Recuperate: View along 10th floor corridor at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, painted by artist Bridget Riley, 2014

Her hospital interventions are well known and her writing on the subject pertinent, acute and inspiring. The most recent work hangs at the trauma unit at St Mary’s Paddington, and was completed in 2014. Riley who lives in Holland Park, west London, stressed the therapeutic power of art to The Guardian: “It reminds patients that theirs is a transitory state, that they are there to recover and rejoin life – that life goes on, and life is outside, and they feel reassured.” 

Barbara Hepworth, Three Forms, 1969, courtesy Osborne Samuel

Barbara Hepworth, Three Forms, 1969

Robert Sandelson, the new co-owner of The British Art Fair formerly the 20/21 British Art Fair said: “When I think of the huge array of talented and knowledgeable dealers and the art that they are choosing to bring, I am confident that the fair will be of great interest.

“The spacious galleries at Saatchi will be offer a magnificent backdrop to show Modern British art, both in paintings and sculpture at its very best. Typical is the appearance of a large bronze by Barbara Hepworth that was for many years on view in St Ives, now coming to London this September.”

The presentations at the fair range from well-known names like Henry Moore, RB Kitaj and Craig Martin through to discoveries of overlooked artists. Visitors have the opportunity to acquire works ranging from previously unoffered works by the key names of modern British art through to prints and works on paper at the more affordable end of the market.

  • British Art Fair, 20 – 23 September, Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY

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