Biography

Peter Richards is an artist based in Belfast, in the North of Ireland.  He works in a range of media including forms of photography, installation and performance. His works can be seen as artistic enquiries into subjects, such as: how understanding is formed and truth is subscribed to; how we have the capacity to suspend belief in order to continue believing in chosen truths. Richards often engages with interactions between re-presentation, time and referencing. He exhibits internationally and, in 2005, participated in Northern Ireland’s inaugural presentation at the Venice Biennale, ‘The Nature of Things – A Long Weekend’.

Solo Exhibitions (selected): 2014 – Intuitive actions, common attributes and isolated incidentsMillennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (UK) 2012 – an elective family tree, The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, BelfastDownload Catalogue PDF (UK); 2007 – Peter Richards, Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick upon Tweed (UK); 2006 – Peter Richards, Studio Lipoli & Lopez, Rome (IT); Paused II, Carnegie Museum & Art Gallery, Larne(UK); 2005 – Richards, ZDSLU Gallery, Ljubljana (SI); 2004 – Live, live art, Cornerhouse, Manchester (UK); Paused, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (UK); 2003 – Take two: little action, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (UK); Recent Works, Droichead Art Centre, Drogheda (IE); 2002 – Recent Works (concurrent with show by Anthony Gormely), Model Arts Centre/Niland Gallery, Sligo (IE); Memorials, Belfast Exposed, Belfast (UK); 2000 – Cartoons, Proposition Gallery, Belfast (UK); 1999 – Another Something Other, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast (UK); 1996 – Corrective Perspective, Context Gallery, Derry (UK).

Group Exhibitions (selected): 2015: Play > Record Rewind, curator Adrian O’Connell, Engine Room, Belfast (UK); 2014: Voices Travel, curator Chin-ming, Lee & Brian Kennedy, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (TW); Art of the Troubles, Wolverhampton Art Gallery (UK); Nearby and Faraway, F.E McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Banbridge (UK); Art of the Troubles, Ulster Museum, Belfast (UK) – Video interview;  The Far Away Neabry, F.E Mc William Gallery (UK); 2012 – Les Intermittences du coeurEX ELETTROFONICA, Rome (IT); Nepotism +1, Platform Arts, Belfast (UK); Oriel Davis Gallery, Powys (UK); 2011 – 26 Treasures, Ulster Museum, Belfast (UK); Revolution, Galerie Deadfly, Berlin (DE); 2010 – Elective Perspective, Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok (PL); A View from Napoleon’s Nose, Kao Yuan Arts Center, Kaohsuing (TW); 2009 – RHA Annual, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (IE); 2007 – Tides, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh (US); Vailartis – Arttakesthestreets, Grupo Forja & La Sala Naranja, Valencia (ES); Fix 2007, PS & Catalyst Arts, Belfast (UK); 2006 – Dogs Have No Religion, curator R. Drury, Czech Museum of Fine Art, Prague (CZ); Through Our Eyes, The Painting Center, New York (US); 2005 – The Nature of Things – A Long Weekend, Northern Irish Exhibition at the 51st Venice Biennial, Venice (IT); The Belfast Way, Herzlyia Museum, Tel Aviv (IL); Artistas del Belfast, La Sala Naranja, Valencia (ES); 2003 – Think Over, Rialto Sambrogio, Rome (IT); Periferias, Huesco, (ES); Return, The National Gallery, Goethe Institute, Dublin (IE); 2000 – L’art dans le monde, Paris Musées, Pont Alexandre III, Paris, (FR); The National Review of Live Art, The Arches, Glasgow (UK); The notice day in this factory is Thursday, Het Consortium, Amsterdam (NL); Bruce Barber, Peter Richards & Vallentin Torrens, curator J. Swidinski, Galeria Dzialan, Warsaw (PL); Interakcje 2000, curator J. Swidinski, Piotrkow Trybunalski & Wroclaw (PL); 1999 – New Contemporaries 99, South London Gallery & Liverpool Biennial (UK); Through A Glass Darkly, Het Consortium, Amsterdam (NL); 1998 – ASHOWABOUTTIME, Milch, London (UK); NI gulp, curator W. Baerwald, Plug In Gallery, Winnipeg (CA); Art From Belfast, Idaho Gallery, Chicago (US); Photo 98, Hull Time Based Arts (UK); Still to Real, Transmission, Glasgow (UK); 1997 – L’Événement Oblique, two-person with Marie-Andre Rho, Tangente, Montreal (CA); European Couples and Others, Transmission, Glasgow (UK); Phooey, The 3 Month Gallery, Liverpool (UK); 1996 – 2e Recontre International d’art Performance, Quebec (CA).

Having grappled with comprehending how understanding is formed and truth is subscribed to, Richards has, throughout his practice, questioned: how he chooses what he believes?; how this is informed?; and how he can suspend belief in order to continue to believe in seemingly temporary constructs of a truth?

Often early works took as their starting point an engagement with forms of mediated experience, such as: how he could defer questioning the edits in movies in order to enjoy and believe in a filmic reality?; or how a combination of text and/or image influenced his thinking. Notable from this early period was his work Untitled; live video interaction a live art work (and later a video) created, in 1996.

In this work, Richards engaged with the theory of the 180 degree rule (as illustrated in a 1970’s instruction manual on how to make a good home movie). The rule set out that to ensure a filmic reality was maintained edits should not join together two separate sequences of film that had been filmed by camera positions more than 180 degrees apart, if focusing on a fixed subject.

The work was divided into two parts. In the first, Richards attempted to do ‘nothing’ in front of a live audience, whilst being filmed by three separate cameramen and a live edit was broadcast. The second saw Richards attempt to mimic the edited video of the first part, to a single fixed camera. The second part took more than twenty minutes and descended into an unexpected form of improvised slapstick dance.

Richards later embarked on a series of works that posed the question how could he be a performance artist, if his formative understanding of the subject had been primarily informed by the images and writings in books? He coupled this question with Peggy Phelan’s description of performance art as being a live exchange between artist and audience, and that anything else, including its documentation, was something other. His wrestling with the agency of creating and documenting performance art foregrounds an ongoing questioning of his understanding of how he is informed.

More recently Richards has reflected on the formation and role of representation, focusing on relationships between time and reference. In his solo exhibition Intuitive Actions, Common Attributes and Isolated Incidents’,  2015, Richards explicitly coupled his concern with re-presentation and the agency of display as a means of constructing simultaneous and competing truths.

In 2016, he began exploring the act of naming as a tool used in the construction of a norm. His most recent series of works Unnamed cycle of violence married twelve cyanotype representations of found thistles with the twelve lines of the Ted Hughes poem Thistles. Each line from the poem was assigned as a title, to name each of the individual blue prints. Here he embraced a process of “making strange” in the creation of fleeting truths.