Elliott Routledge is an Australian artist, known for his public art installations, paintings, and sculptures, he has exhibited in galleries and painted murals throughout the world.
His work exists in a balance between expressive mark making, abstract form and often word based art. Having spent a period of time practising and studying colour, his current work is reflective of how he takes this information of colour relationships and pattern choices, and treats them in a way to create bold, colourful and harmonious abstract compositions.
In recent years with the pandemic, but also in becoming a father, and hurling towards becoming 40 years old, Elliott's idea of life has changed. His endless journey always attempting to fill it with as many things as possible, juggling the want to get out from underneath the pressure of life, whilst also choosing to embrace that everpresent looming pressure.
Under Pressure is a collection of abstract fields and sculptures that can be seen as a mixed bag of feelings. A playful and often moody array of emotions painted with meticulous focus, yet each with its own application. The paintings in this show are made using a melee of paintbrush, airbrush, acrylic paint, construction materials, masking tapes, rollers, squeegies, and any other device the artist deems usable in his studio.
What is behind the choice for the title of the show ‘Under Pressure’?
The inspiration for the title of this show, Under Pressure, is about how you deal with the pressure of life, work, family, and the current world we're living in. It's about how we deal with those things, and where our mental state sits in the pressure.
What was it that made you gravitate towards using blue for this series?
At the moment I am using various forms of really rich, deep blues. I use these a lot because they represent a sense of emotion, and a mood I'm trying to portray. Using a combination of dark moody blues is really essential to give that feeling of happiness and joy a different perspective.
What is the significance of the repetitive use of the smiley face throughout your work?
In my work I use the smiley face in various ways… It's my way of injecting feeling, and thoughts about emotion… and my way of creating a figurative abstraction in the work… and injecting a bit of personality. I try and fuck with it as much as possible to demonstrate the different moods of what I'm trying to talk about. I inject different emotions into the icon… It's not always designed to be the classic smiley, happy face…
Tell me about the process of how you make the thick ‘impasto’ strokes?
With these impasto works every mark has its own emotion and sense of individualism. I tend to lay down a slap of polymer, and then apply pressure and make a really quick stroke and then I apply colour over it. As soon as I put it down, it's its own sculptural mark and it becomes its own thing. Each mark is different to the next, there's no one mark that's the same. And that's a really intentional thing. I like the spontaneity.
Your works are very balanced in their composition. How important is striving for balance in your work?
The main goal when I'm designing and sketching these works is balance. It's a pretty lengthy process… there's a stroke up the top that reacts to the shape below so then that means further down the canvas I need to add something else to balance it out… Colour is a major part of the pieces… it’s not just the balance of shape versus mark making versus form, but also how different colours sit next to each other and the colours in between. I'm a pupil of colour.
What are your thoughts and ideas behind the series of concrete sculptures?
The sculptures are shrines to the weirdness of who we are, they are meant to represent a person. I love to get these foam and concrete elements, make objects individually and then stack them on top of each other, paint them and then reassemble them into their own form.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I have always looked to history as inspiration. More and more I am acknowledging the artists I have looked up to and where in the past my ideas have been influenced from. I think with this work specifically, it's, "Colour like Rothko, movement like Pollock, shapes like Ellsworth, and squiggles like Twombly”.
I've done works that are just really big mark-making that, subconsciously comes from looking at Cy Twombly's work. Shapes are a huge personality in my work… I really like Sydney Ball, Ellsworth Kelly… I like their works because it's not just the painting themselves, they always painted with the architecture and the surrounds in mind. That for me is important because that relates to my mural work as well, I'm also trying to translate between the two.
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