Since the early 1980’s Richard Harper’s work has been focused on exploring the limits of realist painting. Attempting to hone representation down to its essentials he chose to restrict himself to the figure. Since then the human form has been central to his work and stands as not only a representation of the human being itself but of humanity and the experience of being.
In 1990, after several years of painting the nude in a single panel format, he began creating multiple panel compositions as an attempt to go beyond the traditional use of the figure and open up a more expansive interpretation of the work. By taking hyper detailed objective realism and juxtaposing it next to it's polar opposite, minimalist non-objective painting, he is questioning how one looks at painting in terms of representational space, surface, and illusion.
His works involve multi-layering of several very thin translucent coats of paint. On the figures it takes on the mechanics of constructing each layer of the skin itself and requires several months of painting. From conception to completion a painting may encompass several years of gestation.
His goal is to create a work where the narrative aspects of traditional realist painting is minimalised. He sees his paintings more related to icons in the Christian Orthodox sense of the word. They are not as much to be looked at, as to be looked through.
Richard studied painting at the Los Angeles Art Center College of Design and in 1986 after working several years in California he moved to Paris, France. He now lives and works in Normandy.