Paul Robinson tackles mental health and existential anxieties in his striking Pink Bear artworks
Contemporary fine artist Paul Robinson, also known as LUAP, confronts existential anxieties such as isolation and mental health in his striking body of work which features a bright, distinctive Pink Bear mascot.
It's a heck of a time to be alive right now. With various catastrophes and concerns cluttering our timelines and taking up the headlines, it can all feel too much to process. The multidisciplinary British artist has found an incredible way to combat these feelings, though: he travels to remote locations are creates incredible art and photos of a central figure called The Pink Bear.
Appearing at odds with its environment thanks to its colour and appearance, The Pink Bear is an engaging image that explodes with positive energy. In his work, Paul wants to bring together the bold colours of Pop Art and the soft grunge of modern Urban Art, and with The Pink Bear, he achieves exactly that. Standing someone between reality and make-believe, The Pink Bear is the subject of photos and paintings which take Paul months to complete.
It was during Cognitive-Behavioural-therapy that Paul first discovered the bear character; it emerged as a memory and became a symbol of positive reinforcement and recovery. For him, the bear "wasn't hiding in a corner and running away from things; it was really about just standing out and being strong. They were all qualities I wanted to draw on to improve myself. It was all about self-improvement".
He adds that the bear has bought many moments of joy and lightness; it has even acted as a guiding light that has given his life a sense of optimism and balance. "At the end of the day, we are all looking for happiness," he explains. "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. Something is comforting in that fact, and it helps bring balance to my life, knowing and accepting that some days are bad, but others will be better.
"Sometimes we can feel mentally lost, like climbing through a wild jungle in our mind. This sensation can feel overwhelming and disorientating, but we must remind ourselves that jungles give us oxygen and nutrients, allowing us to live, breathe and develop - nature and nurture."
He adds: "By changing our perspective on how we cope with the inner jungle of our thoughts and memories, rather than fighting it, we dissolve our fear of being lost and instead learn to thrive and grow." And what could be a more impressive change of perspective than placing a bright pink bear in some of the remotest places imaginable?
As they suggest, these images are taken in extreme environments, which often involve scaling mountains or crossing deserts. This doesn't phase Paul, though, who describes himself as an 'adventure artist'. He discovered this out-there facet of his artistic approach while on a charity hike, where he realised that being in nature acted as a form of therapy and gave him the opportunity for reflection.
From there, he began to travel internationally, always with the pink bear costume in tow as a deliberate therapeutic exercise. Many of the pink bear artworks are born from these excursions, and they often become large-scale, layered paintings known to fetch triple the price at auction.