Ray Richardson and James Elroy in the Green Room, Flagey, Brussels
Today’s recipe is Woolwich Road Soul Stew
Ray Richardson’s paintings are more than just a mirror of everyday life. His subjects are drawn from his own experience of being born and bred and from living and working in London. When you look at the work of Ray Richardson you don’t have to experience it through just the usual suspects of art history. See it too through the minor musical language of Gil Scott Heron and Marvin Gaye or the pulp history of James Ellroy or the motivation of Cinema Noir.
His kaleidoscopic vision is brought together with an ambitious, free flowing narrative in which his figures act out the sometimes absurd rituals of urban life.
Having been a fellow student at Goldsmith’s of Damien Hirst, Ray Richardson is the first to admit that his kind of narrative figuration goes against current and past trends in British Art. Yet, in spite of this, his swimming against the tide has created an audience and strong demand for his work; both in Britain and overseas.
From the observations of others and his own life on his travels, his memories of childhood, his love of soul and jazz, books and film Ray Richardson gives us a canvas to be able to imagine the multiple stories of others and of our own. Like the lyrics of the classic soul tune Memphis Soul Stew (the soundtrack tune to his childhood in Woolwich Dockyard in the 70s) you basically have to carefully blend all the instrumental ingredients to get the stew right. So in truth this is the story in the paintings of Ray Richardson; the various influences and ingredients that make up the whole mix and the edit and the cut; just beat well.
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When we look at Ray Richardson’s practice over the last two decades, and absolutely at his current work, we feel we are engaging with situations from a universe of his own making, a self-generated milieu, a place he himself inhabits not simply when he is working. This begs the question, where exactly is this world?
When is it, what is going on in it, and what are we witness to in it? It is a world we think we know, but something tells us that we have never been there, that this place does not in fact exist away from these painted surfaces. Despite the complete recognition we feel in front of the various scenarios, we know that we are looking at a process of staging, collaging, manoeuvering, and re-arranging, that shifts the specifics of places and people into another dimension.