The Cull From Hull
Richie Culver has much to say and even more to show for it. His paintings of sparse imagery and text are culled snippets of life’s opposing forces at play: high-brow versus low; good versus evil; clean versus drug-addled; funny versus not-so-funny. “‘I wanted to paint within the grey areas of English culture,’ says the self-taught artist from Hull, a working-class ‘hood in northern England. And he does. In CHASE MONEY, Mr. Culver doesn’t give the viewer much to look at in terms of pictorial imagery and wonderment. There is no big yellow star, no dashing greyhound, no pigeon looking to fly the coop. The painting of acrylics and lacquer on canvas consists merely of black words scrawled atop a whitewashed background with flickers of color here and there. The font is simple and crude like its dictate to go and chase money. It does, however, within its simplicity and as preface to the work’s main, capitalistic theme, proffer a longing in memory by way of utilizing the once-famous lyrics, DONT [sic] GO CHASING WATERFALLS. This, the first stanza of CHASE MONEY is taken from the catchy, chart-topping song, Waterfall, from the mid ’90s by the American hip-hop group, TLC. Mr. Culver doesn’t immediately strike one as a fan of TLC but then again he was 15 years of age and learning the craft of mischief when Waterfall was a worldwide sensation. Winning MTV’s Video of The Year Award in 1995 to boot. But it does make perfect sense that Mr. Culver would choose such a beautifully sung and composed song that voices, beneath its pop-tune-culture-surface, the horrors of the AIDS epidemic (the first number one song to do so), drugs and promiscuity. For this is indeed the grey area life unfolds to all of us regardless of upbringing. It is contradictory and painful, yet full of potential and promise. And it’s always been artists like Mr. Culver who—with their own unique light—point that out to us most simply. Gently. Like a fortune in a Fortune Cookie revealing one’s lucky numbers on one side along with some ancient Chinese wisdom on the other, Mr. Culver attunes us to the flip side of everything. An alternative. And in doing so creates gems in poetic dissonance and absolute goodness. A lasting positive from 2020’s unforgiving death grip.
—de la Haba