Bronze Helmet, 2019
Pastel on watercolour paper
19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in, 50 x 50 cm
Throughout his distinguished career Richards has developed a highly personal style of portraiture which delves deep into the psyche of both his animate and inanimate sitters. In this latest body...
Throughout his distinguished career Richards has developed a highly personal style of portraiture which delves deep into the psyche of both his animate and inanimate sitters. In this latest body of works, and his first exhibition of pastels, Richards presents a collection of people and objects that he wishes to take with him to the next life.
Richards creates works that are simultaneously truthful and subjective, depicting what is before him with physical accuracy while exposing their personality as he sees it, seeking to express something beyond physical appearance. In his still lifes Richards depicts the objects and animals in isolation, allowing them to be given their due attention and hold their own space. Chosen for their singular sculptural presence they are stripped of sentimentality. Richards has owned each object for many years, some since childhood. Often damaged and humbled over the years Richards resurrects the object, shinning a new light on it and making it once again new.
As with Richards’ portraits, the focus of Greek Helmet is the head. Acting as a protection for the face, the helmet is a representation of strength and battle. Richards views the artist as a warrior, fighting for their vision to be seen in the world.
Only after creating studies in oil and terracotta does Richards begin his pastel drawings. Richards sees his terracottas as thoughts and a means of finding the person. Like in his oil paintings, with these pastel works he uses readymade colours allowing himself to own both the colours and the surface they are on. The seeming fragility of the pastel gives the impression that the image could blow away, much like the transience of life.
Richards has had an acclaimed career as a founding member of the Nice Style group with Bruce McLean, exhibiting at Tate and the Henry Moore Institute, works in the Arts Council collection and being a highly influential tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art with pupils including Cecily Brown. Richards joins a long list of acclaimed artists who have taught at Slade School of Fine Art including Lucian Freud, Euan Uglow and Frank Auerbach and has similarly developed a distinctive style in which to explore the body and still lifes.