2011 by Rosalind Richards
Richards’s most recent work is very different to her previous postcard 233 – a drawing alive with the inquisitive discovery of place and people, coloured by dreamy diluted yellows. In style alone Palace Ceiling is very different, with colours that are darkly definite and encompassing; nothing is left simply to the line as in Dream Kathmandu. If that was the dream, perhaps this is the nightmare – no longer are we speculatively wandering through the village, we are deep inside the palace walls, confronted by the rigid expression what we may assume to be Royalty. The perspective of this painting, like the intensity of the colour, draws us in awesomely, as the ceiling stretches high above us in a trick that envelopes our presence in. The navy sky, glowing luminous over white mountains, towers above dotted with stars; we are made to feel small, as one does when gazing up into the abyss above. Fuelled with this magnificence, the dark indigo of the woman’s skirt flows in folds that fall like tendrils, creeping across the floor, quietly but chillingly sinister. Like a dream, looking at things for too long in this painting makes them appear alive or with agency; the floor seems to crack before our eyes and the lit doorways force themselves past the bottom of the wall in a powerful shard of light. The bird embellished on the chest of the figure seems poised for flight, and it is with a moment of dread and surprise that we realise there are tigers climbing and resting on trees through the thinly panelled glass of the ceiling. They make a mockery perhaps of the small and lightly coloured tiger framed in the distance on the back wall. Told like dreams unfold in our heads, Richards’s paintings are like exotic tales, providing moments of blissful escapism.