Ceri Richards was born in Dunvant near Swansea, Wales, on leaving school he was apprenticed to a local electrical engineering firm before studying at Swansea School of Art and later at the Royal College of Art, London. His early work from the 1930s, when he produced painted relief constructions using wood and metal, was influenced by the surrealist art of Picasso and Ernst. He had a lifelong love of music which is revealed in his later work.

Ceri Richards was born in 1903 in Wales but lived most of his life in London.

C. Richards was a brilliant musician and most of his works are explicitly influenced by musical theme: the most popular ones in this sense are the paintings from the series “la cathedrale engloutie” inspired by Debussy’s prelude. In 1962 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

He often referred to the term “sensation” as the feeling he wanted to provoke in his viewers: his practice focused on the involvement with his work and a process where the image had to be discovered and could not be premeditated. In a Surrealist fashion he applied the concept of automatism, which refers to the exploitation of unpremeditated effects.

He engaged in long and exhausting sessions of work, confident that the struggle and the physical and gestural interaction with his canvases was the key to produce compelling and stirring works.


The paint has a tactile quality and the final image was built through the application of multiple layers of colours which are obliterated by different practices, techniques and physical attacks: the paint is scraped off, the canvas rubbed down with turps, he scratches the paint through to the bottom layer and apply all sort of physical interventions on his pieces. Although he mainly produced oil paintings, he also used gouache or acrylic and incorporated foreign objects and materials into painting creating constructions or collages.