Pastel on watercolour paper
18 1/2 x 14 5/8 in, 47 x 37 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. His sitters are never posed, instead either subconsciously, or not, they decide how to be presented. These investigative drawings reveal the emotional connection between himself and his sitter, focusing on the head and more specifically the eyes and nose. The movement between the eyes, nose and mouth is crucial to his work with the slightest nuances revealing something deeper about his sitter.
This portrait is of Richards wife, long-term companion and friend, Phillipa. Depicted against a royal blue background, Richards displays Philippa’s gravitas, serenity and importance to him. With little movement in her face, Philippa’s expression is one of calm. Her hands before her face are held together in supplication.
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.