As a graduate of Goldsmiths College in 1987 (at the same time as contemporary Damien Hirst) and St Martins before that, with a huge and international list of solo shows, the BP Portrait Award and two British Council Awards, Ray Richardson's view of the contemporary art scene is surprising and refreshing.
Ray is a true contemporary artist, in the sense that his work is figuratively immersed in, and a product of, aspects of the urban culture of recent decades. Born in 1964, Ray uses his life experience growing up, real or imagined, as base material for his art. But rather than delve into the fashionable pit of sulky bitterness we see so much of, he uses the experiences of boy to manhood in a cherished way, rather enjoying the tracks of his memory. A product of his time, he references childhood games, seventies TV, fantastic old cars like our dads drove, football laddishness and quirky humour; a South London lad who has become a family man without bitter memories or an axe to grind. He refreshingly pulls us out of the abyss we see in much contemporary art; departing from many of its bleak sadnesses or savage ironies. It is good to see Ray relishing his life experience and its small human pleasures and possibilities. We should cherish this for how really important it is.
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