Olivier Richon’s color work that has preoccupied him since the 1980s focuses on staged portraits of animals and still lives, subjects that recall the classical allegorical tradition yet confuse conventional meanings. Richon often references Old Masters through his highly adept understanding of perspective, composition, and chiaroscuro lighting while also employing elements such as draped material that recall traditional still life painting. Approaching from a painterly and occasionally surreal direction, Richon’s photographs appear to imply highly specific meanings but resist simple interpretation. They promise a narrative content or meaning that might unfold over time or never at all. The work eloquently examines the ways in which photographs can embody the inanimate and animate while also creating a tension between the realism of the photograph and the highly constructed and personal meaning.
Olivier Richon was born in Lausanne in 1956 and he studied at the Polytechnic of Central London where he graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film and Photographic Arts in 1980 and a Masters of Philosophy in 1988. His work has been exhibited internationally since 1980 and is in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Arts Council of England; Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum Folkwang, Essen; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; Brooklyn Museum, New York; National Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt; Tate Britain, London; Fondazione Fotografia, Modena. Today he is a professor and head of the graduate school of photography at London’s Royal College of Art. He has written extensively on matters of art and philosophy continues to probe the possibilities of the photographic medium.