Richard James Oliver was born in Cilfynydd, South Wales. He studied at Mid-Glamorgan School of Art from 1993 to 1994 before attending the University of the West of England to study Fine Art until 1997. He has exhibited across South Wales, and has had two solo shows at the Attic Gallery plus solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art, Machynlleth and the Rhondda Heritage Centre. Here he was commissioned to produce a major mural for “The Price of Coal” exhibition at the Centre.
While a number of the South Wales artists have lived through the collapse of heavy industry in South Wales, Richard Oliver first started exhibiting several years after the end of the miners strike when unemployment was high and prospects minimal. He was part of a new generation for whom the certainties were long gone and prospects for his contemporaries were few. Their identity all but lost, they had to create their own culture, carve their own identity. Rock venues and clubs, not churches and chapels, had become the places to congregate.
His paintings graphically displayed the faces of the people who lived in mining towns that had no mines. The issues of Welsh identity, masculinity, vulnerability, and the emptiness of those modern young men, who lack purpose, are all evident in his work. The loss of potential was expressed in a series of paintings that placed characters from the Mabinogion in a present day valleys town. Would Branwyn, daughter of Llyr just be another joyrider? His paintings may express anger, and are sometimes political, but they can also reflect the humour, sometimes black, that has not disappeared from the valleys.
His career as an artist was interrupted when he gained considerable success as a rock musician. This meant he was not able to paint or exhibit for many years due to recording and touring commitments. Though his musical career continues, in 2013 he returned to painting at his home and studio in Los Angeles, returning with new themes and ideas. Success has followed and he is exhibiting in the US where he has found an enthusiastic audience for his work. He continues to send new work for mixed shows to the Attic Gallery, who represent him in the UK.
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