Colours to emotions
Thomas Richards: ancient paintings, contemporary perspective
Can you tell us about your artistic career?
It was coming to Florence as a schoolboy, aged 16, that made me want to try to be a painter. Although I move around a lot, Florence now feels as much like home as anywhere
How did you develop your pictorial language, so particular, between ancient and modern?
I try to find a way to reconcile and combine the things I love: I prepare my own paints by hand and use ‘old’ colours like lead white, vermilion… but it’s impossible not to see through a contemporary lens.
How did you choose the location for your studio in the city?
My Florence studio is a space that was made for painters in about 1870, I love the idea that there is a long continuity of artistic work in the room. There is a huge north-facing window that gives a beautifully consistent light as the sun never enters directly.
The great masters of the past who inspire you?
I love the drawings of Florentine artists like Andrea Del Sarto and Pontormo. And Then Titian, Rembrandt and Velazquez, a poetic exploration of human existence made out of paint rather than words.
How about contemporary artists?
I really enjoyed the recent Saraceno show at Palazzo Strozzi. The way he explored our varied relationship to the natural world made every room an adventure.
London and Florence: what do you like about your cities?
London can be a difficult city even for someone who was born there. I find Florence is a perfect place to make things and, although it’s small, there is a strong international dimension.
You also teach at the Florence Academy of Art, what do you like the relationship with students?
We have around 90 students from over 30 countries and whenever I’m in the building it’s incredibly inspiring to see their skill, dedication and passion.