Keith Richardson-Jones

Established Artist – 1925 – 2005

Biography

Born in Northampton on the 27th of June 1925, Geoffrey Keith Henry Richardson-Jones was the son a musician and although music remained a pivotal influence through his life there was never any question in his own choice of career as an artist. He began his studies in 1950 within the post-war ridged curiculum of Royal Academy Schools. It was there that he began to balk at what he felt was the artifice of representing three dimensional figures on two dimensional surfaces. In fact his leaning towards geometric art had already begun, inspired by the exercise of copying Trajan Roman letter-forms. These spatially related geometric forms resonated with the young artist initiating a path that would later lead to the development of his own systematic and abstract work.

Having initially taught at Derby while continuing to exhibit at the AIA and London Group, in the wake of the Coldstream report he was offered a position at Newport College of Art. There, with fellow constructive artists David Saunders and Jeffrey Steele, a new collaborative approach led to a progressive environment of combined experimentation which, would later include research exploring the interaction between art and music.
This period at Newport had a radical effect on KR-J’s work, leading later to his abandoning of abstract art in favour of an art informed by constructing and measuring geometric forms. These early constructivist works were within the context of the concrete and geometric artists, including Mary Martin and Peter Joseph he was to exhibit with in the 1966 Soundings Three exhibition at Signals Gallery. K R-J’s empathy with the European and South American artists shown at the Signals Gallery including Soto, Le Parc, de Carmargo and Lygia Clark resounded with his already concordant response to Mondrian s revolutionary resolve and later Lohse’s ‘art with political and moral responsibility’.

He was given a solo exhibitions at the Lisson Gallery in 1970 but this again marked a change in the influences that informed his work. While travelling, his interest in architecture and the proportions of Palladio s systematic fenestration pointed to new possibilities . In addition,with his exploration of music at Newport, he felt the structures of European classical music, with their discordant reflection and inversion, were likewise in tune with the theoretical methods and purposes of his own visual art. He felt a shared commonality of vision with Bach and Schoenberg. Later, Steve Rich s dynamic performance of Drumming at the Hayward Gallery in 1972 further resonated with him. The even treatment of Rich s minimal thematic material, and his gradual rates of change, led KR-J to move towards his first systematic serial reliefs and paintings in 1972.
Although he exhibited widely through the 70s, including at Oriel, Cardiff in 1977, it wasn t until 1978, at the Arts Council s Constructive Context exhibition, that KR-J felt he had been accepted as contributing to British constructive art. In the 1980s he became involved with “Exhibiting Space”, an important forum for exhibiting, collaboration and discussion in Whitechapel, London. Amongst the artists involved he felt a special affinity with Jean Spencer and Malcolm Hughes. In 1996 he was given a touring Retrospective of his work by the Arts Council of Wales.The previous years of experimentation culminated in the group exhibition “Testing the System” in 1996 and the subsequent colloquium “Patterns of Connection” the following year, both at Kettle’s Yard. The deaths of his co-exhibitors and London hosts, Hughes and Spencer, within months of those events, were shattering blows and were followed by serious illness which abruptly ended his career. He passed away in 2005 .The last few lines of his obituary written by Michael Harrison, then the Director Kettle’s Yard, succinctly give us a parting understanding of the artist ‘Dialogue, discretion, and an unwillingness to impose were at the heart of the work and the man. He leaves a distinguished body of work whose keynote, in its maturity, is one of reconciliation: that’s what an artist’s craft is: reconciling those two elements, the cerebral and the felt, in a single work’.

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