Richard Wathen

Richard Wathen is an artist whose work is steeped in the rich tradition of portrait painting. However, his approach is unique in that he creates entirely fictitious characters, even inventing typologies to give them depth and complexity. In his earlier works, these characters were placed in a historical context, each one carefully adorned with attributes appropriate to their time and place. However, in recent years, Wathen has abandoned this contextualization, instead presenting his characters against a monochrome background with minimal, almost “mute” accessories such as a flower or a glass. What makes Wathen’s portraits truly remarkable is the ambiguity they exude. The gender and age of his characters are often difficult to discern, but what is clear is their introverted nature. Whether lost in contemplation or staring sadly ahead, each character seems to be in a fragile state of emotional introspection. This combination of ambiguity and vulnerability makes Wathen’s portraits both captivating and haunting.