Oct 29, 2023, 5:29 PM

Ray Richardson has notably painted men in packs – working-class conspirators, huddling or staring off in different directions, stoics up to no good. All to the good but men are men human beings – and, thus, in Big ray’s world, they are relegated to second-class-citizen status.


Because Ray Richardson is a dogman. He paints dogs because he worships dogs. He most specifically worships the king of dogs – the English Bull Terrier.


You’ve seen these wedge-headed, slope-snouted, bat-eared, beady-eyed, coarsecoated, whip-tailed motherfuckers.They’re shark-like.They love all humans and seek to kill all rodents and cats. They embody the great themes of Love and Death. They radiate glee and indiscriminate good cheer. They’re pure K-9 efficacy – and Ray Richardson gives us their transcendent souls.


He portrays them among street-corner stoics up to no good. Maybe the stoics are planning a dope heist or a smash-and-grab. The bull terrier’s the brain of the operation. How does Big Ray get that point across? Because he rivets your eyes to the dog, not to the men. Big Ray is a man who takes all his artistic cues from dogs, because dogs are superior to men, and bull terriers are supreme K-9 kommanders. Big ray longs to be a dog – and that’s a compliment.Big Ray paints from this immutable sense of longing.


Ray Richardson’s oil-on-canvas bull terriers are strident, whimsical, domineering, tender and the quintessence of K-9 form. They look simple on the surface. Ray Richardson paints them again, again and again – reinventing and exploding this K-9 form, revising it, perfecting it, ever attentive, ever worshipful. How can anything so on-the-surface simple be so complexly depicted? The answer is the great British artist himself. He loves the bull terrier more and more. He paints them to express his growing gifts as an artist and his growing and ever-mutating love for this most magical beast.


I’ve been following ray Richardson ‘s career for 25 years and I know whereof I bark.


The Exalted Dog,

James Ellroy

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