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The Pleasure of Questioning the Meaning of Space

ARTIST INSIDE 2022 | Richard Woods

The Pleasure of Questioning the Meaning of Space

British artist Richard Woods uses printing to create new spaces.
His colorful patterned panels are attached to the facades or interior walls of existing buildings, much like tiles.
Borrowing from traditional craftsmanship, his installations are more than just a decorative way to change the look of a building, but a reminder of the importance of space.
In particular, his model of an English bungalow, dubbed “Cartoon House” for its appearance straight out of a comic strip, filled with neon pink, lime green, and thick black outlines,
provokes serious considerations about housing problems.

Richard Woods, 리차드 우즈, Down, 2021, Acrylic on wood, 88 × 72.5 cm

As the iconic Cartoon House shows, you have a special interest in homes, but what does that mean?

There’s a British proverb that says, “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” It means that a home is a refuge, a sanctuary for a person, and it’s an important space, both physically and psychologically. For the British, it’s a place of privacy and safety, and it’s something that they’re very attached to and desire.

It’s interesting that your work also touches on sensitive real estate issues.

The housing shortage is severe, while some people own multiple homes and convert them into holiday rentals. That’s why I created six cartoon houses, which are one-third the size of real bungalows, and placed them around a resort town.

Your work is sometimes commercial, sometimes public. Do you lean more towards one or the other?

I don’t want to put any meaning or interpretation up front; I prefer the possibility that it can be read commercially, politically, or socially depending on the context. When I put a work out there, it’s actually the most interesting to me that it can connect with the public in multiple contexts.

Richard Woods, 리차드 우즈, Pie Chart, 2021, Acrylic on wood, 121 × 121 cm

Your work transforming a hotel in Pyeongchang during the 2018 Winter Olympics also made some headlines. How does the surrounding environment inspire your work?

The Pyeongchang project was all about the environment. The blocks were made and glued with patterns that physically reflected the environment, surrounded by mountains and trees. The idea was to bring the beauty of the landscape into the hotel building.

It’s been four years since then. What are your interests these days?

My interest in architecture and space is still the same, what’s different is that I’m more focused on creating actual spaces. I used to focus on repurposing existing spaces, but the pandemic had an impact, and as the time went on where I couldn’t travel and couldn’t install my work, I realized through that lost time the importance of creating actual functioning spaces. For Kiaf PLUS, I’m setting up a booth with my signature red brick motif and seeing how it can function in an existing exhibiting space.

Interview by Heaseung Kang, published on Kiaf 2022 Catalogue