Simon Richardson was born in Gore in 1974. He graduated from the Otago School of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996. Since then he has been a full-time artist.
In 1998 Richardson received the Elizabeth Greenshield Award. This is a prestigious $10,000 grant from the Canadian institution to aid young artists at the beginning of their careers, which enabled Richardson to spend time studying in Europe. On his return to New Zealand he taught drawing to international students at the University of Otago. In 2000 he held his first solo exhibition in Dunedin. Following the success of this, he returned overseas to study European painting.
Whilst still at art school, Richardson was often criticised for lacking a contemporary approach to painting. His highly detailed brushwork, even then, could have been likened to the Spanish realist paintings of the early 20thcentury. In contrast with his fellow students’ more radical approach to art, Richardson ignored the art school fashions and developed his own signature style of realist painting. Leading Otago landscape artist Grahame Sydney has been an important influence on Richardson. Sydney was his mentor, encouraging him to paint in a traditional way when realism was viewed as outdated.
Richardson’s fascination with textural and intricate detail and the mundane everyday object are the fundamental characteristics of his work. When looking at the stylistic genre Richardson employs, one is likely to put him within the same category as artists like the Spanish realist painter, Antonio Lopez-Garcia, and his friend and mentor Grahame Sydney.
Richardson’s passion for depicting the natural and the figurative can be seen in works such as Hone Tuwhare, the portrait of New Zealand’s literary great. The poet’s response to Richardson’s finished portrait was: “You beauty. It’s honest. You didn’t try to glamourize me. Good on ya, mate.” Richardson has achieved many awards throughout his career. These include three Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation awards, an honour only 48 other people have received; he was a finalist in the Wallace Awards; a finalist in the Adam Portraiture Award; winner of the Mainland award; and received a scholarship from The New York Academy of Art.
Richardson was commissioned to paint the Civic Portrait of the outgoing Mayor of Dunedin, Peter Chin, which is hung on the Council Chamber walls. Richardson’s works are held in many important collections, including the Eastern Southland Museum in Gore who purchased his portrait of Hone Tuwhare.
Tags: New Zealand Artists