THE PINK BEAR. THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF AN ALTER EGO: AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL ROBINSON

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1. Give us a brief insight into your upcoming exhibition The Hero’s Journey at Andipa Gallery ?

In my debut solo exhibition with Andipa, I’ve produced a vivid collection of paintings, photography and unique prints telling the fantastical story of alter ego ‘The Pink Bear’.

2. What was it exactly that made you decide to choose a pink bear as your alter ego ?

‘The Pink Bear’ has transformed a distant childhood memory of mine, by removing the bear from the context of a family portrait - which remained for years in my mother’s bedroom draw - and placing it into surroundings similar to that of a real bear.
The Bear is no longer a mascot for a theme park or TV show but becomes a mystical figure of a fantasy make believe world. The Pink Bear is not a man in a costume, it is an alter ego. The costume dressed figure is the transformation between reality and make believe, innocence and corruption. The pink bear has a whimsical sense of playfulness through its association with childhood memories, yet remains firmly attached to adulthood through the tainted surfaces that surround the character in the abstract spaces of the paintings. 
 

" The Pink Bear is not a man in a costume, it is an alter ego. "

3. What is special about your technique ? Describe the process.

I try to marry the aesthetic of the new with the old in my paintings. On the large canvases I begin by artificially decaying the surface by building layers of paint that mimic decaying wallpapered and painted surfaces found in buildings. I then use either stencils or screen-printing to apply the wallpaper pattern to the canvas, which is based on the wallpaper in my childhood home. I then paint directly on this using oil to create vivid scenes that are woven into the undying textures.
 

4. Out of all the works you will be presenting at this exhibition, which one is closest to your heart? Why ?

This is a tough question as each painting is representative of an important memory and time in my life. I think of each painting as a visual diary, it may not be obvious at first as it’s not a literal representation of my thoughts, but is instead told through the bear and his visual landscape. The most pertinent painting is one I created in 2015 called “Me & My Shadow”. The painting is about being lost in the abyss of ones mind, travelling down a seemingly endless road, only accompanied by your shadow which is representative of the unconscious, which can include both positives and negative aspects of the ego. If you’d have asked me the same question last month I’d have said “With You I Am No Longer Alone” as it is about celebrating being around loved ones and finding that sense of belonging. But feelings are transient and sometimes out of our control.

 

"The most pertinent painting is one I created in 2015 called “Me & My Shadow”. The painting is about being lost in the abyss of ones mind, travelling down a seemingly endless road, only accompanied by your shadow which is representative of the unconscious, which can include both positives and negative aspects of the ego "

 

5. Who or what has been the biggest single influence in your way of thinking ?

The biggest influences in my work tend to be my close personal relationships and inner feelings. They deeply effect me and have the ability to change my work, whether it be good or bad. I think my sensitivity as an artist enables me to be more receptive than most others to people’s feelings and my surroundings, so I draw upon this and use it in my work. This can be both a blessing and a weakness as it sometimes leads to heartache. This has been the biggest emotional influence on The Pink Bear work. The bear is searching for love, and connection, that is his quest. Time to time he finds it.

 

" I think my sensitivity as an artist enables me to be more receptive than most others to people’s feelings and my surroundings, so I draw upon this and use it in my work."

 

6. What do you love about the art world and what do you hate ?

I love meeting new people. This is probably my favorite part of the art world. As an artist you tend to spend a lot of time alone in the studio creating new work, this can be very lonely. So it’s always great when you get invited to go to exhibitions or events and meet new people and other artists.
I guess I hate the stigma attached with being an artist as seen from an outsider. That it’s not a real job, or that you are on drugs, or that you won’t make any money till you are dead, or that you are a bit mad (also insane, crazy, mental or weird). I’m sure this is based on romantic ideas of what an artist is like, but I’m not sure how relevant is today as most artists I know have to work full time in order to support their passion which means they don’t have time to be any of the things mentioned above or they would not survive.

 

" I guess I hate the stigma attached with being an artist as seen from an outsider. That it’s not a real job, or that you are on drugs, or that you won’t make any money till you are dead, or that you are a bit mad (also insane, crazy, mental or weird)."

 

7. In your opinion, what role do artists have in society ?

We are the creators. We are the dreamers. We make things. We offer an alternative view of reality. We help people to look at ideas they may not have considered.
 

8. What can we expect to see from you in the future ?

I’d love to work on some larger scale commissioned projects. Working on huge murals that really help bring the art to life as it feels like you can literally step inside into the  world that has already been created. Everything is life size of bigger.

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