Riley often alludes to her impressions of foreign cultures in her paintings. In 1981 she travelled to India. Nataraja is a term from Hindu mythology meaning 'Lord of the Dance'. It refers to the Hindu God Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer, who is usually depicted with many arms. In this painting, vertical bands of colour are cut across by diagonals, creating a sense of dynamic movement through intricate rhythm and counter-rhythm.