Richard Slater was born in London in 1927. He attended Hornsey School of Art, which led to a long career teaching at the College of St Mark and St John, first in Chelsea and then in Plymouth. Moving to East Cornwall in 1973, he became a member of St Ives Society of Artists. He has won numerous awards and commissions and was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour.
Richard is a wonderful exponent of the post 1945 English romanticism with a rare ability to express that style across a range of mediums. His work shows great dexterity with a wonderful fusion of abstracting the landscape, cutting it into little blocks, and putting it together again.
Over his many years of painting, he has produced a wide spectrum of work which is demonstrated with the works on display here.
Until recently Richard continued to paint most days, with the raw visual materials for his work found on walks, when he gathered aspects of topography in sketchbooks and then back in the studio, those sketches were brought together to create an impressionistic vision.
Extracts from an article originally published in the Western Morning News, February 5th 2016, written by Simon Parker:
“The first time I came across the work of Richard Slater, I could hardly believe my eyes – or my luck. It was back in the late-1980s, when one of my more pleasant jobs on the Western Morning News was writing about the visual arts. As a result of this, I was invited to judge a painting competition. It turned out to be the South West Open, a prestigious affair, the other judges being eminent artists and notables. And although I knew a little about art and art history, having grown up in West Cornwall and been immersed in the various movements spawned there, this particular occasion was way out of my league.”
“The judging process was organised along strict lines, with each painting being held before the panel to consider. If a majority of hands went up, the anonymous work of art went through to the next round. If fewer than half voted for it, the painting was rejected. The day progressed smoothly, until just after lunch the assistant held up a medium-sized canvas. It was a landscape, the like of which I, for one, had not seen before. Bearing highly original motifs of a sun, a startled bird, a lone figure, and blocked areas which linked and flowed, it was masterful, beautiful and intriguing. It seemed the other judges were similarly impressed. All hands went up in unison. I noted its number, wondering if it might turn out to be the winner. It was. Phew!”
The artist’s name was Richard Slater. And since that day, almost thirty years ago, he has continued to paint every day, producing an enormous body of work, exhibiting widely, and gaining many admirers. Yet despite his clear originality and skill, Richard had not enjoyed the success many believe he deserves.
Richard is far from unknown to his contemporaries, many of whom hold him in great esteem and he is now gaining far more recognition among serious collectors of contemporary art.
One man who knows Richard‘s work better than most is Geoff Sloan, who has been acting as ‘agent, promoter, supporter and friend’ for 20 years. Geoff said: “Richard is a hidden gem of British art. Put simply, no one else paints like this. He is a wonderful exponent of that post-1945 English romanticism and he has the rare ability of being able to express that style across a range of mediums – not many artists can do that; he has great dexterity. Richard makes a wonderful fusion of abstracting the landscape, cutting it into little blocks, and putting it together again. In this retrospective you can see a very impressive spectrum of work – and it’s all very reasonably priced for an artist of his standing.” Asked why Richard is not better known, Geoff agrees that it’s a mystery.
“He has all the accolades,” he said. “However, I think for a while he lost his confidence and strayed away from making what I like to describe as ‘classic Slaters’. But it was always there, as this show demonstrates. “He is now in his late-80s and still at his easel every morning. I think of Richard as the equivalent of one of those old Delta blues players because they kept on going, as he does. Great artists guide you through, they take you on a journey
– and that’s what Richard does. I am sure he will go on for as long as he is able to hold a brush.”
Taking me aside for a moment to look at one of his early landscapes, The Village, painted in 1960, Richard explained that the raw visual materials for his works are found on walks, when he gathers aspects of topography in sketchbooks. Back in the studio, these sketches are brought together to create an impressionistic vision.
“It is at that point that I start to think more abstractly and architecturally, building the painting from those blocks,” he says, with modesty. “I make that connection, I make chunks of the picture, transferring it all gradually to a flat plane – and that’s the job really.”