A Fondness for Prints

British artist Richard Woods’ canvas is any structural surface; walls, floors, house and store facades, even courtyards. To these Woods applies his signature prints — motifs of classic patterns, architectural details, pastiche decoration — all giant patterns repeatedly screen printed onto laminated boards and employed in vast wall to wall or floor to ceiling installations.

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Woods is an artist whose very particular method of making crosses preconceived borders of art, architecture and design. But these boundaries do not concern Woods — his work, he suggests, is not tied to these disciplines but is influenced by each of them.

Central to Wood’s work is the idea of motif. The patterns he chooses to replicate are each already faux designs, patterns that are familiar in their second coming – previously reappointed as decoration in domestic and architectural spaces. A sense of nostalgia drives Woods choice of design: Mock Tudor facades, prints of wooden parquet flooring, chintzey Regency style wall coverings are amongst his favourites. Woods reappoints these designs in a third reworking, this time in garish colours and exaggerated scale.

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The cartoon nature of Woods designs are in direct contrast to the pseudo pretentiousness to how the (now unfashionable) designs have been appointed in the past. Therefore the designs, Woods says, are ‘logos’; they are dramatic, saturated emblems of a nostalgic and familiar iconography. Woods often reuses a particular motif over and over and in doing so reclaims the orphan but familiar design as his own signature – its almost a Pop art sensibility. The gaudy, brightly coloured woodblock print (a bold interpretation of wooden flooring) has seen several manifestations in galleries and exhibitions, for specially-commissioned work for residential interiors, as an installation in stores (for Paul Smiths new flagship store in New York) and most recently as the surface decoration for the ‘WrongWoods’ collection of furniture for Established & Sons.

A recent and ambitious commission illustrates the crossing of art, design and architectural boundaries that is often associated with Woods’ work. Collector Adam Lindemann employed Woods to turn a dilapidated house in upstate New York into a structural canvas. Woods clad the entire house in another of his signature prints; his own version of Mock Tudor. The dramatic embellished structure is both artwork and home and is a significant example of how Woods prints purposefully confuse the intention of the original and reworked designs.

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Woods work is a rich and dense saturation of exaggerated print and colour that affects the senses and offers an alternative reality. Experiencing a Woods installation can be a little like going through the looking glass – but without the sinister undertones as Woods work is clearly derived from a fondness and an affection for the prints he reworks and a is a riotous celebration of the nostalgia they evoke.

WrongWoods are a collection of storage units designed by Richard Woods and designer Sebastian Wrong. That pieces of furniture are clad in two different colourways of Richard Woods woodblock ‘Logo’ printed laminate and are available from Established & Sons.

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