Simon McCheung

portrait of artist Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Simon’s fine art photographs are defiantly contemporary, surreal, extensively complex, yet with this etherial simplicity.  The elegance of his compositions highlight a drama in the cleanest of formats, using himself as the subject matter.  Some people may refer to his artworks as self portraits and in a way they are, however he manages to convey the political and personal message with his intelligent art direction using himself as a model rather than a portrait of himself.  This is what makes his work so interesting.  This self awareness that Simon has, in that he recognises the advantage of his photogenic and adaptable persona, his face is able to characterise the narrative so well, with a subtle ingenuity that anyone who gazes at his work can slip into the identity of the spirit he projects.  His artworks are both courageous and unique with an affable flair that makes them completely different.  In some cases the photographs are taken in separate settings, he uses his animation and photoshop skills to combine the images to create a separate piece of art, the result; an award winning image, ‘Underwater Spell’ of the man in his pyjamas sleeping as he floats under water.  Then there is, his Cat as a Hat, the forest of broccoli as lungs, or man on top of the Chinese house.

artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
An Underwater Spell by Simon McCheung
artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
The Grand Hotel by Simon McCheung
artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
Lulu & I by Simon McCheung

The communication of Simon’s work addresses topics with relevance and political savvy.  His most recent works represent the inner antagonism of his sisters struggle with autism and how he projects the conflict that she encounters in her daily life.  Simon explains the spectrums of Aspergers, and that communication is hard for his sister.  She can write to express herself however signals to her vocal cords is limited.  He explains to me the emotional traumas she endures in public, when people stare at her when she makes a sudden noise when she vocally expresses herself with excitement at something she may have observed.  Or her sensitivity to sound and how excruciating certain sounds can be.  This series of works covers all areas of her life, as he tries to engage with the frustrations she feels, using his body to express this empathy in these photographs.  What he cares about is making his sister integrate into society and empower the public with knowledge what an autistic person feels.

artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
Autistic Expressionism by Simon McCheung
artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
I Can’t Wake Up by Simon McCheung
artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
Interstellar/ The Other Side by Simon McCheung

All of Simon’s works cover conversations with current affairs from climate change, to consumerism, population, retirement, you name it he addresses subjects that you will talk about daily.  Thinking with the brilliant lateral thinking that is the pulse of the diversity of London life.  Simon was born and raised Grimsby by his Chinese parents who run a Chinese takeaway.  He was sent to a Chinese language school in Grimsby, however when he was six years old, in the 1980’s, his parents sent him to a catholic school in Hong Kong for two years, when they still had corporal punishment.  This, so he could learn to speak Cantonese fluently.  Simon talks to me about not being conditioned in one culture or the other, and how his experience of learning another language is in the subtly; he explains to me that Cantonese has many puns in its language and how just the slightest change in tone, the word can have a completely different meaning.  That sometimes Cantonese speaking people would laugh at him when he spoke.  His wife Yumi who is originally from Hong Kong is fluent in Cantonese, and this is helpful.  However his charming use of Cantonese is what attracted her in the first place, he claims, smiling at me.

artwork by Simon McCheung
Turned On by Simon McCheung
artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
Impressionist by Simon McCheung
artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
The Dream Beyond Sleep by Simon McCheung

Simon is a self taught photographer, he spent two years teaching himself, taking portraits of himself as practise.  The more he took the more self expressive they became, he tried using models, however they never captured the expression he wanted to express, and whereas with himself he has all the patience in the world.  Now his face has become his Brand.  This intelligent thinking has its roots.  He does have a Foundation in Fine Art as well as Degree at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, he studied animation, went into Digital advertising at Ogilvy and Mather and is a pro with flash animation.  He additionally works in Soho London designing and creating computer games.  His artwork, Underwater Spell, has become famous, the curator at Saatchi Gallery contacted him about using his image, as it appeared on their website and Facebook page.  Additionally he has been published in the desirable and exclusive Italian Vogue Magazine.  He has just finished directing his first music video, and is already working on another one.  He recently started a project 365 days, took a photo every day, most of them self portraits, exploring elements of the surreal, he likes to tell stories and capture viewers imaginations and place them into a sense of disbelief. Then he tells me Yumi is expecting their first child and they will be parents this autumn.

Interview Antoinette Haselhorst

artwork by Simon McCheung featured in CAKE
An Artist’s Struggle by Simon McCheung

Paul Robinson (LUAP)

Portrait of artist Paul Robinson in CAKE
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

There is something wonderful about children playing, from the sound of their laughter and squeals and interactions, to the inventiveness they display, striking a relationship with imagination and reality in a world of pretend. Climbing trees exploring abandoned places.  We all are familiar with being children, from our own experiences to being a parent.  This imaginary world is encapsulated by Paul’s most recent works of The Pink Bear in a realistic and fictional environment lost or wondering, sometimes taking us into a more political storyline of the world as it is today.  His compositions of the bear in various situations, from sitting in a tree like a boy is both beautiful and curious, it illustrates the alter ego of the artist or even our own.  Painted from his meticulously orchestrated photographs.  The Pink Bear, appearing in different situations or events.  Isolated amongst melted ice caps, or on a beach eyeing a woman, or appearing lost in a forest at dawn as the sun’s shafts of light gleam like razors through the trees.

Artwork by Paul robinson
I ♥ Day Dreaming by Paul Robinson
Artwork by Paul Robinson
Tempest by Paul Robinson

Paul narrates the adult topics of climate change, the exploitation of our environment as well as our current affairs, through the eyes of innocence. These artworks come in themes, I used to be a Polar Bear, representing the idea that the Polar Bear may become a mythical creature in our future, where nobody will know whether he existed or not, as well as Pink Bear, Bed Time Stories and Pink Bear Is Coming To TownIt is renascence of childhood, loss of innocence and those lost moments of happiness that we all encounter within the realms of family.  His bear inspired by an old photograph, of just that, family life with his mother, father and brother, as they meet a Care Bear in the 1980’s. The patterns that Paul uses in his paintings, is the metaphysical layering of wallpaper that his mother painted over many times in the home where he grew up.  His love of trees; as his father chopped down the apple tree to make room for a swing, when he preferred the real tree.  The good intentions of parenting and the true effect it has on our innocence.

contemporary art by Paul Robinson
Rainbow Bright  by Paul Robinson
Contemporary art by Paul Robinson
Rarer than a  Unicorn by Paul Robinson

When you meet Paul a tall man with a strong athletic build, one can easily forget the gentle soul that resides.  A highly successful driven student, he accomplished A levels in Art, Design and Technology as well as Maths and Physics.  He bought his own dark room as a young teenager with money he earned, then studied A level Photography, and completed a foundation course before applying to Goldsmiths.  He didn’t get in, he tells me grinning.  After studying Fine art at Canterbury, Goldsmith approached him to talk about his Pink Bear artwork. Oh the irony!

Pink Bear art by Paul Robinson
Solar Rise by Paul Robinson
Contemporary Art by Paul Robinson
Naughty Step by Paul Robinson
artwork by Paul Robinson featured in CAKE
Recollection of Innocence by Paul Robinson

If you are thinking to yourself that he was privileged; he grew up in Grimsby, made famous by channel 4’s benefit street.  Paul was an academic scholar though, always top of the class, as well as being an accomplished athlete.  His determination did not deter him even after his parents split when he was 16, he was already showing his artwork by then “They supported me with anything I wanted to do.” Choosing Art because it gave him the freedom to explore.  His father is also an artist, a sculptor, however he spent most of his life working on the oil rigs in the North Sea to support his family, and now he is retired he does what he loves.

Pink Bear artwork by Paul Robinson
Wanderlust by Paul Robinson

After Uni in 2005, Paul moved to London.  So he could pay the bills, he worked as a Creative Director for prestigious advertising agencies and charities.  He is very cautious, treading a careful line, he doesn’t want to have nothing.  We touch on the subject that some successful artists have the advantage of having wealthy parents to allow them the freedom to be artists.  Business acumen is what has become a necessary part of many modern artists today.

Contemporary Art by Paul Robinson
Followers by Paul Robinson

His artworks do create debate and are subjective, he was recently challenged by a woman at one of his shows at the art fair, who appeared a bit aggressive, as he tried to explain the artworks are about human trafficking.  This conversation between humans through artistic mediums is so essential to our lives.  Paul’s painting decorates a wall in the exclusive Belgrave Hotel, alongside legendary artists Andy Warhol, Banksy, Damien Hirst, Joan Miro, and Mark Chagall.  His work has appeared in 35 shows from every corner of London from Mayfair to Spitalfields, and around the globe from Dubai to Hong Kong.  He is currently working on his next show, large canvases that he meticulously layers, that leave you to gaze for a long time.  I heard a quote recently by a famous collector who said “You Gaze at art, gazing is much nobler than just looking”

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

portrait of artist Paul Robinson
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst