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Chopping Block: Richard J. Oliver

In the day to day hum of life; raising early, heading off to work, returning late only to repeat it all again the next day, you might be fortunate enough to run into the likes of Richard Oliver, who see the hustle and bustle of life in a completely different way.  An obstacle becomes a hurdle, idle time an opportunity to gather with friends (alive or dead), art and fatherhood the highest priority.

In the midst of his current whirlwind of art, music, tour and family, Richard's humor and gratitude is not lost.

You can imagine our excitement to partner with him on the fine art wood print release of "Young Seiren", limited to 20 signed and numbered prints, available now.

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POW:  The whole world is currently captivated with the World Cup. Who are you rooting for in the World Cup?

Richard:  If I had time to watch soccer, I would definitely put that time to better use and read a book or exercise my body and mind. I take nothing away from football the sport but even as a boy, I'd always prefer to play it than watch it. Anyway, Rugby is the only sport I deem worth watching. That's a mans game!!! I kid. In all honesty, being a father of two young lads, and a struggling artist my time is completely stretched between the two, and besides finding ways to stay healthy for my sons, I simply can't justify the luxury of watching tv when I have a home to keep and a family to be with.

POW:  I've read you love to run, what got you interested in running? Where is the most amazing place you’ve run?

Richard:  I started to run because all my other sporting loves were cut short when I herniated a bunch of disks in my neck. I was an avid surfer, snowboarder, skateboarder, mountain-biker and trained in the art of Muay Thai. In fact I am surprised that my injuries are this limited. I have come to know myself and I am so lucky to have a wife who also understands me. I am gifted/cursed with an overactive mind and body, and left unreleased I am like a dog locked in a small room - I would destroy everything! I have to burn excess energy each day in order to quiet my mind enough to allow true inspiration and wisdom to come through the silence. Running turned out to be the least neck impact sport especially after I adopted a mid foot minimal running style. I use running as my meditation and can often be found laughing or bawling on a trail somewhere in the wilderness in rapture of the beauty of life. I have run all over the world, but I think the most memorable rain I made was in a breathtaking city called Bologna in Italy. I didn't expect such beauty and run for 4-5 hours. It's the best way in my opinion to really see and get a feel for place. I'm happy to say I've started riding a little again and I am glad to find that my neck has improved almost 90%.

THE ICE LAKE SWAN by Richard J. Oliver

POW:  You’ve lived in the U.S. for awhile. Coffee or tea?

Richard:  Coffee. but sh*t coffee. Don't get me wrong, I love a quality cup of coffee but if I allow myself to become accustomed to quality coffee, I'm sure it would break the bank. What can I say, you can take the boy out of Wales but you can't take Wales out of the boy!!

POW:  You mentioned that several of your works were influenced by Welsh folklore. Was folklore a big part of your childhood? 

Richard:  My early works were often based on the welsh stories found in the Mabinogion. Historically, before writing was an available skill adopted by the working peasant, the Welsh used oral narrative to pass on information and tales, therefore often the translations and way the tales were interpreted changed when passed from generation to generation. I discovered the Mabinogion in my teens and I was both baffled and inspired by the content and visuals they describe. Nowadays I prefer Sufi poetry and the works of the Brothers Grimm to fuel my imagination and some of my paintings.

POW:  Do you have a favorite Welsh tale?

Richard:  Not a favorite tale as such but I find myself often returning to the mythical creature the Minotaur. As a young student I was exposed to a sculpture of a seated minotaur looking intently at his human hand desperately trying to make sense of it. This image resonated deeply with me. I feel that the dichotomy and struggle of our human condition and our being condemned to spend our lives trying to balance and reunite our animal physical side with our spiritual side is a journey most self aware people will be forced to take.

'The Escape' RJO 32x42 framed 2013 Oil and mixed media on canvas

 THE ESCAPE by Richard J. Oliver

POW:  The images in your works are often of children, have any of them been your own children?

Richard:  I have painted my elder son a few times but find that I bring too much emotional baggage to the work and it stifles me. In fact, many of my paintings are not meant to be children. I completely understand that exaggeration of certain features give my characters a childlike look and I of course harness this to some extent to tap into an instinctive response in the viewer but at closer look, many of the figures I paint have adolescent or even young adult body structure. Many aspects of my work have questionable perspective, spatial and gravitational elements which I hope adds to the fantasy of the paintings and unworldliness.

 

(Photo by ©Jon Lake 2014)

 

POW:  You often quote classic literature authors such as Emerson and Holmes, in what way has their influence shaped your art over the years.

Richard:  All my friends (yes I call these teachers my friends even though most of them are dead) have been fundamental to my growth as an adult. I can not begin to stress how much their genius and guidance has given me lifted me, dropped me, torn me a parts and stitched me back together again. I love these people and am so grateful that they came to me as teachers when I, the pupil was deemed ready and worthy. However for all the words and messages they share with me, I know and fully understand that they are only sign posts and maps and the real discoveries will come from within. All their wisdom point to the inner spirit within man and all the worlds words can only show a route but will never walk it for you, we all have to take the journey ourselves. I am so grateful that these masters have come to accompany me on my journey and the strength and courage I get from them keeps my path straight.

 

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POW:  We feel so honored to release the limited edition print "Young Seiren" with you while at the same time you are having a gallery opening in New York and then embarking on a European tour with your band "No Devotion." How do you balance your success, family and still remain so gracious and humble?

Richard:  Stop it, the honour is all mine! For starters it is not my place to accept the label humble, though gratitude has become a massive part of my life and development. I have been guided to see that my expressions and my experiences are actually the expressions of the source of all life itself albeit, through me. I can not be other than gracious for such a blessed and sacred role of the creative with the added privilege of experiencing not only said creation, but all creation. As an instrument of life, this fragile existence, when known as such, can only be experienced with authentic gratitude.

Believe it or not, I do not speak of religion here and have for many years studied both theology and atheism, I speak from only myself and of the place, the un-namable place behind where our mind resides. My reading lead me to the water and with a feverish thirst I drank, and in the quiet and by way of the innocence before judgement I awakened for a moment to see some truth. Einstein said "try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value". I hold this wisdom close.

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Thank you Richard for sharing so much of your wisdom with us.

Prints on Wood is proud to present:"Young Seiren", a sign and numbered limited edition release by Richard J. Oliver. This 12 x 12 print will be offered on a 1/2" thick bright white wood canvas and retails for $175

For more information on Richard J. Oliver, please visit his website: http://www.richardjoliver.com/

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