Richard Smith was born in Edinburgh but moved with his family to South Africa at a young age. He studied graphic design at the Johannesburg School of Art in the 1960s, and from 1968 he worked extensively as a noted political cartoonist for the Sunday Times. Following his first solo exhibition in 1972, Richard Smith began painting in the mid 1980s and exhibited extensively at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. In 1990, while a resident at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, Smith began making figurative oil on paper works, some of which were torn up and re-worked as collage elements. For Smith, the act of painting is foremost whilst form and content are secondary. He wants, in his own words, ‘the brush to spend as little time as possible on the canvas.