Richard Twose (born in Devon, 1963) studied 3D Design at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, in the 1980s. After a successful first career as a jewellery designer in London, during which time he was a visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton and Camberwell College of Arts, Richard relocated to a village near Bath and began to paint portraits while teaching art and art history at a sixth form college in Bristol. From 2009 his work was exhibited in galleries in Bristol and Bath.
In 2012 (and again in 2021) Richard won the Bath Society of Artists’ Painting Prize in their annual Open Exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery and was invited to become a member of the Society.
In 2014 Richard won second prize at the BP Portrait Award. He was shortlisted again for the award in 2017 for his portrait of film director Ken Loach, which was commissioned by the University of Oxford. The institution has since commissioned him to paint four other portraits. Richard has also been commissioned by The National Portrait Gallery, The Holburne Museum in Bath and Marks & Spencer.
In 2017 he won the Royal West of England Academy’s annual Open Exhibition Award and in 2019 he was shortlisted for the Ruth Borchard Collection Self-Portrait Prize.
Although commissioned portraits, often of eminent figures in their fields, represent most of his output, Richard also paints figures with animals in what he describes as “dramatic narrative paintings in a magic realism style”, exploring themes such as risk, instability (flight, gravity and balance) and the almost mystical relationship we have with animals and birds. These works can be inspired by discussions with his portrait sitters, Greek myths, the history of art, British folklore, the circus, quantum physics and his personal history. Richard works with circus performers and dancers, among others, to bring his ideas to life.
His current series of paintings is intended to show scenes from a story but it is up to the viewer to invent a narrative for themselves – what led to this moment and what will follow. “We all live by making up stories; we make sense of our lives, our place in the world, through the stories we tell others,” Richard says. The titles come from completely different stories: books picked at random off the artist’s shelves and sentences chosen equally randomly from them. “I like the dissonance that creates – they don’t explain the picture but they might open up new narratives.”
Richard lets colour, line and texture interfere with the formal subject of the painting. He wants the surface of the painting to be enjoyed as expressive and sensual in its own right. Ben Luke, writing in the Evening Standard, has described his work as having “an elusive, poetic quality”. Edward Lucie-Smith has called Richard “a modern master of the non-finito technique”.
Richard’s paintings are shown regularly in both solo and group shows at galleries in the UK, America and Hong Kong, where he has many private collectors. His most recent solo shows have been held at Catto Gallery, London, in 2021, 2019 and 2017, at the Victoria Art Gallery and Beaux Arts Bath in 2019 and at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle in 2016, where he was invited to be a judge for their Open Contemporary Portrait Award. In January 2023, his paintings were shown by Gala Fine Art at London Art Fair. Richard was one of the three judges for the BP Portrait Award’s Travel Award 2016. He has undertaken residencies at Elisabeth Frink’s studio in Dorset (2018) and the Royal College of Art in London (2015).