“Like a big golden retriever bounding towards you with an idiotic smile on its face. That’s how I want people to perceive my art.” It’s a nice image and it’s a great way to describe his work. It also gives me more of an insight into the mind of Euan Roberts.
Meeting just before his solo exhibition in Hoxton’s Waluso Gallery, he is relaxed. The paintings have already been hung and are all around us. The walls are filled with brightly coloured canvasses complete with motifs familiar to his work. Recording the latest episode of our Art Related Noise podcast for the Art Republic Gallery in Brighton. We are doing so in luxury. Lounging as we speak on the galleries purpose made blue Chesterfield sofa.
Art Republic Alumni
Euan himself is a former alumni of Art Republic. He once worked in the gallery and credits that time as having a big impact on his artistic career. Coming into contact with artists on a daily basis and just spending time in that environment helped to solidify the direction he wanted to go in.
Coming from an illustration background originally, his work certainly has that quality, yet there is a freer feel to it. He describes how finally picking up the paint brush onto canvas was like a release. No longer constrained by the limits imposed by commercial illustrative work, he has found his voice.
Symbolism and Motifs
Euan uses a lot of symbolism and motifs in his work. We talk about the propensity of crabs, snakes and basketballs. Each image repeats in some way dotted through the combined whole of the assembled work. Each image has a meaning. The crabs he describes as an emblem of resilience, “they just sort of mind their own business” he tells me. “They move sideways, they’re a bit of a passive creature, they always seem a bit scared. But they’ve got these claws so they are equipped to defend themselves or attack.”
Not everything is immediately as it seems though. Indeed he talks about his work as having a bit of a sinister quality to it. There is an undercurrent to much of his art. If one were to delve deeper, it would reveal an extra layer to the fun illustrative style that you might not first see on first viewing. Sometimes that is as simple as understanding the meaning behind it or the title.
One symbol he uses repeatedly is an outstretched holding a sign saying ‘I’m ok’. The phrase has personal meaning but the image has it’s genesis in his own imagining of himself standing submerged in the sea off the West Pier in Brighton. There he describes a vision of himself holding aloft the sign. ‘I’m ok’ it says whilst all around the sea swirls. There are of course obvious connotations to mental health with that image. “It’s saying that we can present one thing when really it’s obvious that your not ok so maybe we should delve deeper or maybe open up and express more”.
Euan’s work on the whole though is bright and fun. “It’s like an art hug of colour” he says. “I just want it to turn up the volume of life just a tiny bit”. He also doesn’t want people to think too deeply about the pieces. Fundamentally this is about brightening up a space or making someones day just a little happier.
‘Joy Ride’ the exhibition from Euan Roberts is showing at the Waluso Gallery in Hoxton from 4 October 2019 to 17 October 2019. The interview was recorded on 3 October 2019 as part of the Art Related Noise podcast series with Art Republic.