Paul Richards trained at St Martins School of Art where he met, amongst others Bruce McLean, with whom in 1971 he formed the performance group Nice Style. Dubbing themselves 'the World's First Pose Band', Nice Style used performance to poke fun at the pretensions of the art world and the formal academicism of the work around them.
Since then Richards's painting has focused primarily on the human figure in isolation, working in a highly fluid style, to create images that appear on the verge of disintegration. Removing all anecdotal detail, Richards captures one aspect of a person accurately, so that everything else can be invented.
Richards has been an inspirational teacher at the Slade School of Art since 1985. Recent projects have included a residency at London Zoo in 2011, which saw Richards move away from the human figure, making portraits of animals with the same level of intensity he brought to his human portraits. This series of works was accompanied by a full publication 'Paul Richards: A Day at the Zoo'.