British painter and maker of reliefs, born at Dunvant, near Swansea, of a Welsh-speaking family.
Richards was an artist of great versatility, able to absorb many influences without sacrificing his originality. From 1933, under the influence of Picasso, he worked on a series of relief constructions and assemblages which were described by John Rothenstein as original creations of a rare order, and unlike anything else done in Britain at the time’.
He was influenced by the London Surrealist Exhibition of 1936, which in his own words helped me to be aware of the mystery, even the unreality, of ordinary things’. Among several examples of his work from this period in the Tate Gallery is Two Females (1937-8). After the Second World War his painting drew inspiration from the large exhibition of Picasso and Matisse at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1945).
His love of music showed itself in the many pictures with musical themes done during this time-e.g. Cold Light. Deep Shadow (Tate, London, 1950)-culminating in his Cathédrale Engloutie series illustrating Debussy’s music on this theme. He was also inspired by Dylan Thomas and one of his finest paintings ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ (Tate, 1956) is based on his poem of that name. Richards also did work for churches, designed for the stage, and made murals for ships of the Orient Line.