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Adam Riches

Artist Spotlight

For the most part, people show the outward appearance of order and civility but underneath that exterior there's usually something far more interesting happening.

Adam Riches is an emerging British painter and draughtsman whose characteristically stylized portraits are based on a sensitive response to the human condition, ranging from furious expressive moments to poignant, melancholy reflections. Using both pen on paper and oil on canvas, Riches' explores the human psyche and delves into the effects of current social and political issues upon individuals, as well as their behavior toward one another. The artist is especially interested in people's frailties and their fallibility - in particular, their potential for extreme behavior.



Q. Did you always want to be an artist?

A. I think so. Although there was quite a long period of time where I wasn’t very creative. I have been drawing since I was a small child and people told me I was good at it. I think when you’re young and someone tells you that you’re good at something it makes you want to do more of that thing. One of the few subjects I looked forward to at school was art, but unfortunately, it wasn’t given much importance at the school I went to, and so it never really seemed like something worth pursuing. 

Q. You work both in paint and in pen on paper, does each medium represent a different form of expression for you or are they simply different tools to serve a similar purpose?

 A. I think that they are different tools to serve a similar purpose. I like to drift between drawing and painting to keep things interesting for myself. When I feel myself lose enthusiasm for one medium I do something with the other. 

Q. How did you arrive at your rather unique way of using pen on paper?

A. I’ve been drawing with pen since I was a child, making artworks from imagination. From around the time I left school until my mid-twenties I was doing very little drawing at all. Then, I started to make photorealistic drawings. I’d seen some that other artists had made and that sparked my enthusiasm and motivated me to find my way back into making art. It wasn’t too long before I was bored with the long and laborious process of trying to replicate a photo. It was then that I decided to do a BA in fine art. I began to move away from photorealism to make work that was more loose and spontaneous. Knowing more or less what a final work will look like before I even start, has lost its appeal to me. Making those drawings requires energy and there is always an element of unpredictability that makes the process exciting.

Q. You have stated that your work is a response to the human condition. Could you elaborate on this?

A. I’ve always been interested in depicting people. I used to copy historical characters from books, with my father when I was a child. When you get older you realize that these characters - like all people - are fallible and flawed and this is what I am interested in. They have the capacity for and good, evil, and everything in between. It’s the potential that ordinary people have for malevolence that I find the most fascinating and terrifying aspect of the human condition and this is something that informs my work.

Q. Which other creatives do you admire?  

A. Some artists I admire are Francisco Goya, Yan Pei Ming, Gerard Richter, Zdzisław Beksiński, Georges Seurat and many more.

Watch a BBC interview with the artist:

Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?  

A. To continue to be excited by making my work is something that I would be grateful to achieve.


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