Over the past twelve months, Richard Woods has become increasingly aware of graphs and diagrams that illustrate elements from our intimacy, such as health or finances, as well as very abstract concepts like happiness.
These visual data representations have infected his creative process and, as result, “The Investment Show” displays how his work has been developed using his own familiar woodblock printing technique that hybridises the information overload with which we are bombarded by the media. Drawing from his experience as a carpenter in the construction industry, Woods gives to his works a ‘hands on’ quality that is both appealing and simplistic by alluding to the very material that they are made of: wood. The use of vibrant colours and cartoonish lines contributes to the feeling of making and playing, while generating a kind of self-referential shape, like a fish finger manufactured in the shape of a dolphin.
The references contained in the works remain ambiguous, in a way that we do not identify the source they represent. For example, ‘Pie Chart (MJ)’ could allude to “The most popular pets in Palma de Mallorca” or “The average income of residents in Rome”, but their origin is completely opaque and, therefore, the fiction of their numbers depends on one’s imagination, as well as the interpretation of the cataloguing system used by the artist in the titles of the pieces.
Both Woods’ architectural commissions and his wall-based works are characterised by their strong political and social significance. Such is the case of the commission “Small, medium and large”, for which Woods has built three houses of different sizes considering the different preferences that people have for housing, while others have no place to occupy. The work is the result of an observational exercise during a walk from the artist’s studio in East London to the West End area, where the site of the commission is located. As the artist was leaving behind the eclectic neighbourhood of Bethnal Green, he encountered larger houses, culminating in the Buckingham Palace. “Small, medium and large” resonates with everyday life decisions (where should I live?, what kind of flat can I afford?) which ultimately have an impact on the lives of others and the environment we inhabit. Reducing these decisions to an absurdly simplistic level, “The Investment Show” reflects on the unbalanced nature of our existence, as the graphs are a scheme to illustrate that someone is at a disadvantage.
Taking further the engagement with the context that Wood’s practice inhabits, the colours he employs belong to famous brand logos that are advertised on billboards near his studio. The colours are mixed in a paint shop using an industrial machine, therefore containing a synthetic feel that contrasts with the natural pattern of the boards. While the linguistic meaning of a pie charts unfolds in many ways in the work of Woods: not only as a colourful piece of information but also as a portion of a cake easily eaten, absorbed and diggested like we metabolized the headlines in the news.
Richard Woods (Chester, England, 1966) has trained as a sculptor at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1990, where he lives and works. Woods is known for his architectural installations and for re-surfacing structures that propose an absurd twist on the cult of DIY aesthetics. Recently, he has been commissioned to make a public sculpture in Lower Grosvenor Gardens, London (2020), received an architectural commission in South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, designed an interior for Comme des Garçons’ flagship shop in Osaka, and transformed the interior of Cary Grant’s former Hollywood residence for its new owner, art dealer Jeffrey Deitch. In 2003, his reconstruction of a cloistered courtyard was the centrepiece of the Henry Moore Foundation’s exhibition at the 50th Venice International Art Biennale.
His work has been exhibited at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire (2019); Frieze Sculpture, London (2018, 2013); Chelsea Space, London (2017); Folkestone Triennial (2017); Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2016); Festival of Love, Southbank Centre, Londres (2015); Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff (2015); Albion Barn, Oxford (2015); Bloomberg Space, London (2012) y Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2009). Wood’s works can be found in collections such as Saatchi Collection, London; Arts Council England, London; Victoria and Albert Museum; London; British Museum, London and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.