Painting murals since the young age of 9, Talenthouse artist Paul Robinson has found success through the use of a pink bear in his artwork. Born in 1982 Grimsby, England, Robinson is inspired by his childhood and artists like David La Chappelle and Jeff Koons. His is artistic name LUAP derives from a personalized book he received as a kid in where he needed to defeat a monster by solving a riddle. The answer to the riddle happened to be his name spelled backwards and has stuck ever since. Now in London, Robinson has had his work admired by the likes of Cara Delevingne, Japanese hotspot Ramusake, luxury London hotel Belgraves and more. We asked him about his bear icon, inspirations and his creative outlets to give us more insights into his artistic mind.
TH: When did you start painting?
PR: I’ve painted more or less my whole life. I was encouraged from a young age by my family and some inspirational school teachers who spotted I had talent. By the age of 9, I was creating 6ft high murals on the walls of the school inspired by photographs of English landscapes and trees. I'm still creating murals now, only now they are much larger.
My parents were very supportive and I remember christmas and birthday gifts were always a mix of practical and fun things. Drawing materials, Lego, my first point and shoot camera, creative stuff that gets your mind all excited about making things.
Who or what inspires you?
PR: I draw on memories and personal history, re-imagining and appropriating distant but familiar objects, patterns and feelings to create abstract and vivid metaphors.
I get mark making (how I paint) inspiration from everyday objects and surfaces. I pay careful attention to the way man-made objects degrade and decay. The way the paintwork on a skirting board becomes knocked from being bashed by a hoover, the way wood darkens when it is repeatedly touched. I try to capture this in my work as it plays on the sense of personal history.
The artists which inspire me the most are Francis Bacon, Man Ray, Jeff Koons, Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, David La Chappelle, Stanley Spencer, Richard Hamilton, Kuniyoshi…the list goes on. I think as an artist I'm constantly observing.
How did you feel when you found out that you were a Selected Artist?
PR: I was really pleased, not only to win but that my work was going to help a good cause - as I'm an animal lover and I have a cat myself.
I also think it's a great idea to produce affordable prints so that more people can access and enjoy art. It's a great feeling to know that people appreciate my work, particularly Cara Delevingne, who is such an influencer and tastemaker.
Where did the "bear" icon derive from? Who is the "bear”?
PR: ‘The Pink Bear’ has transformed a distant childhood memory of mine. By removing the cuddly 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. Though more recently the bear has gone a bit AWOL and ventured into a few hip night clubs and posh hotels.
The bear is no longer a mascot for a theme park or TV show but a mystical figure of a fantasy make believe world. The pink bear is no one and everyone. it’s the alter ego that exists within all of us. It is the transformation between reality and make believe, innocence and corruption.
It has a whimsical sense of playfulness through its association with childhood memories, yet it remains firmly attached to adulthood through the tainted surfaces that surround the character in the abstract spaces of the paintings.
When do you feel most creative?
PR: I’m a night owl. I love being in my studio at night. Everything is quiet and still. This really helps me connect with my deepest thoughts. I also really love being out in nature.
Has anything happened since becoming a Selected Artist? (more work opportunities etc?)
PR: The two exhibitions from the link were already pencilled in. But the organisers got a lot more excited knowing that Cara loved my work and that she has an original pink bear in her living room.
Pink Bear at Ramusake
Who would you love to collaborate with and why?
PR: Jeff Koons or David LaChapelle. I love how they produce work that is erotic and playful. They both make exquisitely detailed and highly polished artwork which is highly conceptual. They merge fashion, art and popular culture in very unique ways. I would love to spend a week with them and get a glimpse inside their minds to see what makes them tick.
I’d also love to do a pink bear shoot with Cara Delevingne. She has a lot of energy and seems like great fun. I think we'd get something really cool and dynamic.
What motivates you?
PR: Creating work that makes me happy. I find creating art very therapeutic, it's the best activity I've come across for clearing your mind of any bad thoughts. It really cleanses you.
Any suggestions or tips for artists that are submitting to Talenthouse briefs?
PR: Art is a personal exploration of the world we live in, and trying to make some sense of it. Just have fun and enjoy making your art. I found it quite sad that artists which did not get selected started putting down winners. Art should not be about that, make yourself happy and if other people like it then great.
When are you the most happy?
PR: One of the things I've really enjoyed most about some of my exhibitions - which have taken place in more obscure venues - is the fun mix of people you bring together and come across. I love meeting new people and having a great night out in the name of art.