Ceri Richards was born in Dunvant, near Swansea, in 1903. He studied at Swansea School of Art, before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, London. A contemporary of and frequent co-exhibitor with Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, John Piper and Graham Sutherland, he represented Britain in many international touring exhibitions. In 1962 he was a prize-winner at the Venice Biennale. Ceri Richards is widely regarded as one of Wales’ most important 20th Century artists. He is represented in many museums worldwide, and the Tate Gallery has a collection of over 90 works.
This exhibition brings together a collection of paintings, drawings and prints, representing his work from the 1930’s up to his death in 1971, covering all his major themes.
The work of Ceri Richards in all its phases and media is shaped and typified by an intense expressive energy. It is evident at every moment in every line and stroke of his drawing, in its characteristic curve and arabesque, its quick certainty and summary insouciance. It is there in the concentrated simplicity of his drawing from life and in the elaborate exuberance of his fantastic inventions alike. It is to be felt in the pressure and virtuosity of gesture and touch that gives his paintings such emotive presence and power, now held in poise like a tide on the turn; now flowing full and turbulent.
The lyrical impulse that informed his technical mastery as a draughtsman and painter derived from a deep empathy with the proliferating diversity of forms and rhythms of the natural world, at the heart of which the recurrent cyclic drama of human life takes its place. In this vision of the world, all life – ‘fish flesh and fowl’ in the words of W.B. Yeats - is ‘caught in that sensual music’. The human figure, still and enrapt, or embroiled in violent action, disguised or explicit, is presented as dramatically potential, realised in emotional actuality, never merely observed as an academic subject. This exhibition affords a fascinating insight into the artist at work, with works from all periods of an exceptionally creative life.