Xavia Duke Richards (b.1999) is the second artist of the Incubator 22 programme. Born in Jamaica and raised in London, Richards is currently in his final year of study at Camberwell College of Arts. Richards’ most recent series of impasto paintings examines notions of personal and societal freedom through thickly layered stirrups of paint, tarry, dried pigment, and sand - potent materials that often explode beyond the confines of the canvas.
In Beyond the Senses, Richards interrogates freedom from oppression as both physical and immaterial, intimate and universal. Some paintings spill and bulge beyond their frames; others are contained by strips of hessian burlap; others, still, have been hacked and clawed at revealing a glimpse of the layers of earthy pigments below the surface. Shifting between all-over abstraction and a schematic architectural abstraction, Richards’ paintings offer a material salve to the oppositional binary of freedom and confinement. Although the paint application appears dense and heavy, these paintings manage somehow to exude an ethereal levity that is both surprising and compelling.