The Absent Drinker - Original Painting


Curatorial Note

Created for Pete's 2022 Don't Adjust Your Mindset exhibition, this work is a reaction to the decline in UK pubs over the last twenty years. Pubs in Pete’s work usually tell stories of those enjoying a quiet moment or of lively family get-togethers. Here, no such thing happens.

The dying plant in the corner symbolises the dwindling clientele. Pete’s empty boozer, designed to serve the estate seen in the distance, is an example of one of the types of pubs that have been disappearing.

The fate of the pub in The Absent Drinker is emphasised by the painting’s perspective.
The path to the tower blocks is steep and narrow, making the blocks’ inhabitants seem far away. The painting’s title is a play on Édouard Manet’s 1859 painting 
The Absinthe Drinker in which an inebriated man sits alone on a wall at night. Although Pete’s work explores a different aspect of drinking culture, the scenes in both paintings tell bleak and dismal stories.

Artist's Note

"The jukebox remains silent, no longer needed to provide the soundtrack to idle chatter.

The lights on the beer pumps glow but no one is there to see them let alone taste their liquid delights.

Every now and then the one-armed bandit sings out like a caged songbird, calling to a mate who will never visit.

On the wall a poster advertises a special night of entertainment and fun, like a map to the mythical paradise of Shangri-la.

The landlord sits at the end of the bar leant over today’s newspaper, improving his crossword skills.

6 down, (6,7) “Death knell of the local” A_S_NT D_I_KER" - Pete McKee


Created in 2020

Emulsion on board

Measurements including frame: 64cm x 78.7cm

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