Rain Barrel

1st – 6th August, open daily 12 – 7pm

Pusher Gallery is pleased to announce its debut exhibition, ‘Rain Barrel’, an exhibition at Fitzrovia Gallery, London of new works by Elliot Roberts (b. 2002, Devon), a recent graduate of the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford.

For the paintings in this exhibition, Roberts takes as his starting point the brewery in rural Devon where he has worked for the last six years. The lived experience of this setting and its activities drives a desire to explore the relationship between landscape and memory in a manner that steps around the direct depiction of a location and the characters that inhabit it. Instead, a haptic, half-remembered image of this workplace emerges, for which Roberts’ engagement with painting as a medium is both cause and consequence. Painting acts as an equivalence for memory: aiming towards social documentary but filtered through his own subjectivities of doubt, frustration and longing, until we are lost in a hazy surface of chipped paint and furniture varnish.

In its capacity to demonstrate how notions of depiction can benefit from the elusive nature of the painterly surface, ‘Hold Music’, 2023 becomes a touchstone work for this exhibition. A central, crouching figure directs us to identify other figurative elements – a low, curved wall; a truncated pair of legs – whilst being left to second- guess the ambiguous green form in the lower left corner and the floating pips of yellow. Their formlessness speaks to the unnameable emotions that linger about a place, as well as the dizzying sensation of looking ‘back along’ into the remembered landscape. The many layers of translucent, flaking paint similarly intoxicate as we look into them, falling away to reveal a chronology of process and trial.

In this manner of looking, the alchemical achievement of painting merges with that of brewing, with both formulating a material transformation that, through wonder and playfulness, aids in the expression of something we thought was out of our grasp. The surfaces of Roberts’ paintings regularly transform as they are created, and continue to do so now that we are subject to our looking.

—Angus Wood, 2023