LUAP, aka Paul Robinson, is a multidisciplinary artist perhaps most well known for the Pink Bear. A life-size character that makes its way into much of his work, the Pink Bear has become a way for LUAP to reflect on childhood memories, spark joy and optimism, and experiment with medium and style. We recently welcomed LUAP to the platform and caught up with him to learn more about his recent installations, paintings and murals, what the Pink Bear means to him, and how adventure informs his practise.
Tell us a bit about the work you create.
For over a decade now I have been creating work based on The Pink Bear. The Pink Bear surfaced from a happy childhood memory whilst a dark shadow clouded my mind as an adult and has brought moments of joy and lightness, acting as a guiding light by bringing a sense of optimism and balance into my life.
The artwork I create includes painting, photography, prints, sculptures and more recently installations.
How would you describe your style?
My original paintings are a fusion between abstract expressionism and photo realism, infused with the explosive energy and bold colour of Pop and Urban Art. All these elements come together in a melting pot of techniques to create a seamless image on the canvas.
What message do you want to get across with your work?
At the end of the day we are all looking for happy. It's not always easy to see, and sometimes it can feel completely lost. But it is something that remains, even in what can feel like the darkest possible moments. I think there is something comforting in that fact and it helps bring balance, knowing and accepting thats some days are bad, but others will be better. I hope people feel this too when they look at my work, a sense of optimism.
How has your practice evolved since starting out?
Some aspects of my practice have stayed the same, and others have evolved and refined over the years. For example I have always taken all my own photographs as a starting point in my artwork rather than using found material. It's important for me that every step of my process I have complete control over and understand that process fully so that I can push its boundaries. If I don't know how to do something I will set about learning that process as I find going off on tangents can lead some very interesting and new places which I think some of my nest work comes from.
My paintings have also gone through changes as they have developed over my career - the paintings have become both more abstract in areas and more photo real painting in other areas, whereas before they were either one style or the other. I'm very much into the hybrid style at the moment as it reflects how the world can feel at times - somethings are sharp whilst other remain blurry and out of reach.
Over the last 18 months I have created several installations, artworks and murals on the streets, making art accessible throughout this period of transformation and change. The work produced ranges from large painted murals, taking over digital displays, vinyl wraps and now on New Bond Street a spin on a shop window display with Oil Paintings and Sculptures of The Pink Bear.
What's an average day like in the studio for you?
I don't think there is such a thing as an average day in the studio as my practice is quite varied.
Some days I am sat in the studio for 12 hours doing non stop painting and coming home caked in paint, no idea how it happens when I do most of my painting with a size 0 brush. Other days I am exploring mountains and forests caked in mud with 20kg of camera equipment on my back searching for the perfect shot. I also work from home sometimes on watercolour studies for my larger paintings, this is something that came about during the first lockdown - I found it quite relaxing and it also helped with my large studio works too as I was able to realise the works at a quicker rate.
What/Who are your key influences? Have these changed over the years?
The biggest influences in my work tend to be personal relationships, inner feelings/mental health, the environment and current affairs.
Are you currently working on any exciting new projects?
I have a solo exhibition in New Bond Street which will be opening in October The exhibition is set over 3 floors (6000 sq/ft of space) in which I'll be showing new paintings, photography, prints and installations of The Pink Bear. Currently the windows have paintings and installations in them.