We talk to the artist about exposing his personal highs and lows in his work, spray painting his ex's house in the name of love and what we can expect in his new solo exhibition
Hidden along the colourful tributary of Dalston’s Shaklewell Lane, LN-CC’s appointment only concept store presents London-based and Hull born Richie Culver’s second solo exhibit, ‘Too Dark One Light’. Across a series of paintings, collages and mixed-media installations, the works find their origins in a desire to communicate with individuals hailing from past and present. Without any formal training, it’s Richie’s honest and unconditioned approach that attracted the attention of the Tate Modern, who last year displayed his debut artwork in their infamous Turbine Hall.
The ‘Too Dark One Light’ narrative runs through a collection of pieces ranging from ‘I Loved You’, the result of Culver’s failed attempt to win back an ex-girlfriend by spray painting her new home, to a set of salvaged Ouija boards - portraying the desperate longing and hopeless pangs of grief for those now gone. Dazed Digital chats to Culver about the exhibit and the consequences of romantic vandalism...
Dazed Digital: How did the exhibition with LN-CC come about?
Richie Culver: Well, I've known John Skelton for a while now, and when I first saw the store I was really blown away with what he had created! Not surprised at all, but it was just so fucking cool man. Then he mentioned he was opening two new rooms and would I be up for exhibiting my new work to launch them. It felt natural and it’s nice because myself and LN-CC are kind of at the same point in our careers, so it matched nicely.
DD: How have your experiences led you to feature your personal life so openly in your work?
Richie Culver: It’s more or less the only option I’ve got. My work is personal, I guess - it’s all I’ve got to draw on. I mean, I’m not going to start making work that’s slagging off this country or whatever… It’s not the 80's, it’s 2011 and I fucking love my Country with a passion. I’d like to think my work is very British, that’s definitely the angle I’m coming from. A bit like The Smiths or The Cure have that totally British feel. The experiences and fuck ups in my life are what I aim to get across, most people can relate to it too; we’ve all been heartbroken and felt alone at times. Being heartbroken sucks man! So I’m just saying my little bit on how I’ve dealt with shit. My work, until now, is a diary of my 20's. Some of it is bleak as fuck but I try to add humour along the way too.
DD: Can you tell me about the first time you combined the two?
Richie Culver: Probably my Jesse Owens piece that was in the TATE Modern, it’s a collage I did. I found a really old New York Post in a crack house in the Lower East Side when I was living there. I kept it for ages then found it again when I got back to London. In the back was a piece on The Berlin Olympics and a picture of Jesse Owens, I cut out the words “Have you really ever loved any one?" from a book and added it to the image. It just fit really well. It’s a strong piece and has been a popular piece for me.
DD: How do you think works differ between those who like yourself are self taught, in comparison to those who are professionally trained?
Richie Culver: That’s a hard one for me to answer, because the way I work is the only way I know. I tend to make my own rules up. I’m sure going to art school is great and all…I mean hot girls left, right and centre, but to have someone tell me and mark me on things I’ve created - fuck that man! It’s just not for me.
DD: How did your ex girlfriend feel about you spraying her new home...?
Richie Culver: Ha ha... I was kind of fucked up at that time so I’m not sure. I know I thought it was a proper heroic and poetic thing to do. In my mind it was a dead cert that it would work to win her back. I even asked a load of my female mates what they thought and they said “it’s a beautiful thing to do Richie”, so I went ahead and climbed onto her roof and painted the words "I LOVED YOU" above her bed room window. It didn’t work though. I’d been getting fucked up a lot and gambling, etc, so she’d had enough. If I ever see her I’ll ask her what she thought. She probably didn’t even notice it!?!?
'To Dark One Light', LN-CC, 18 Shacklewell Lane, London, E8 2EZ, 16 June – 7 July, 2011. Exhibition is by appointment only.