Ceri Richards' work is imbued with a complex poetic imagination, sourced from music and literature, as well as from themes rooted in his native Wales. His great admiration for the works of Dylan Thomas, whose status he parallels, and for such composers as Debussy and Beethoven, brought him an unceasing flow of inspirational material for his painting, which at its most abstract functions as a kind of visual music.
The distinctive style developed by Richards, combining figurative elements with abstract passages, brought together different strands of influences. In his early years, he had been inspired by Cubism and Picasso in particular, but after he moved to London in the 1930s and came to know the likes of Arp and Moore, Surrealism became a key element in the mix - and in 1936 he was an exhibitor at the International Surrealist Exhibition held in the capital. The immediate post-War years were marked by a highly-coloured palette - with Matisse an influence - whilst his work of the late 50s and early 60s centred around an extensive exploration of musical and natural themes, in particular a profound meditation on Debussy's 'la Cathédrale Engloutie' .
Works by Richards are held in a number of public collections, including the Tate Gallery, Arts Council, British Council, National Galleries of Scotland and the National Museum of Wales.