Interview with Polar Bear, France

Since 2018, we had the opportunity to collaborate with Polar Bear, stencil paste up artist from Paris. More dedicated to highly elaborated, multilayered and nuanced artworks in mid-sized format, his visual style was very thankful and communicative as a basis for cross-over with other disciplines, such as traditional crafts and contemporary art practices. So we had a great walk with Polar Bear through the wider spectrum of realities than usual in our program, including age, gender and audience groups that we usually didn’t reach before, and that is, among other things, what you will see in this recapitulation. Besides his work for the streets and galleries, Polar Bear himself is a professional gaffer in the film industry – that is, the guy whose job is to work on all kinds of aspects of light in the moviemaking process, and that is definitely echoing in the use of nuances in his art too. We took a moment to steal this very busy guy from his day job and ask him few questions, backed up with visual report from his participation in our residency programs. Enjoy!

Q: How did the visit to Serbia affect the way you approach your creative process and your career? Did anything change for you after this journey?

PB: Visiting Serbia was awesome. It was the first time ever for me to be invited to an artist residency in fact, so that was a big deal for me for sure. Meeting other artists there was a nice experience. All these talks and exchanges about technics, paint, tattoos, creation… It was also my first international exhibition, the one in Museum of Contemporary Art in Novi Sad . My stay in Serbia will remain etched in my mind for a long time.

Speaking of the methodologies, to create my pieces for the exhibition, I changed a bit my process. Usually I print my visuals, but this time, as pieces were bigger than usual and the time was very short, I used a video projector to project the visual on huge piece on paper, draw the lines and then cut. Since then, it’s a technique I now use a lot for big formats.

Space Chimp by Polar Bear, Museum of contemporary art Novi Sad, Serbia

Q: What was the highlight of your stay, something you will remember forever, or at least a significant detail worth remembering?

PB: I’ll definitely remember the kindness of the people I met there. And that moment when I was painting my Judy piece will stay in my mind forever I think. I painted it at the Voïvodine Museum nextto a military tank that was all-covered with art. Seeing this killing machine transformed into a piece of art was gripping!

Q: Soon after your visit to Serbia, the Covid era has started…how has this affected your worldviews and your art practice, now when we look behind us at these two dynamic years? What has changed on the street art scene specifically after this rupture in regularity of reality? 

PB: Covid era...well, it was challenging for sure. At the beginning at least. The fact that we couldn’t go outside to make art wasn’t easy to deal with. As days passed, my willingness to paint and paste on walls grew bigger. I wanted so bad to give people art to see so they can have a moment to take  bit of breath from this pandemic. I definitely don’t do street art enough. But as I put only originals in the street, I must say it’s really time consuming – to create a visual, cut it, paint it and then paste it outside. Between the first idea and the moment when the piece is out there for everyone to see, it can be a long process.

TKV & Polar Bear @ Museum of contemporary art Novi Sad

Q: Between the galleries and the street – where do you spend more time, in which context?

PB: I really try to answer to the call of galleries and their wishes, but the street is what drives me.

Q: What would be your message to aspiring young artist that is just starting, how to get noticed by the art galleries?

PB: My message…? I guess it would be – if you want to get noticed by art galleries, just do street, just express yourself. If what you do resonates with people, galleries will follow. For me, this is what art is. Expressing yourself. If you do it in order just to be contacted by the galleries, you’re more of a salesman than an artist…

Tapistry accomplished in colaboration with Atelje 61 craft studio, Novi Sad
Stencil art workshop for the teenage girls, backyard of the Institut Francais Novi Sad

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

PB: New visuals, and I really think about making a “Don’t make us History” exhibition, dedicated to the species that are on the way of extinction.

More images and informations at www.instagram.com/polarbearstencilz

Judy the rescue dog by Polar Bear, MSUV Novi Sad
Hannibal’s elephants by Polar Bear, MSUV Novi Sad

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