Richard Wathen

°1971, London (UK) – lives and works in Suffolk (UK)

Richard Wathen’s practice is rooted in the art historical tradition of portrait painting. His painted characters are fictitious – he invents figures, even typologies, in a sense. In Wathen’s earlier works, characters are depicted in a historical setting, each with its attributes. Since a few years, however, all contextualisation has disappeared. The characters appear in front of a monochrome background and only carry ‘mute’ accessories such as a flower or a glass.

Wathen’s portraits excel in ambiguity. The gender or age of his characters is unclear, but they all seem to be strongly introverted. They are sunk into a fragile state of contemplation or stare sadly ahead. Throughout several works, we recognise the same fictional characters. Wathen himself says: “I was interested in portraying someone at more than one point in their life. Like taking the cubists’ idea of multiple viewpoints and applying it to time.”


Richard Wathen
Richard Wathen (Courtesy of the artist)

Richard Wathen had solo shows at Mostyn, Wales; Max Wigram Gallery, London; L&M Arts, New York; Salon 94, New York. His work was part of group exhibitions at Hauser and Wirth, London; Blum and Poe, Los Angeles; Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, New York; Maison Particulière, Brussels; Kunsthalle, Krems; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; La Maison Rouge, Paris; and CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux. Public collections include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and The Olbricht Collection, Berlin.

works by Richard Wathen

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