Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Philip Colbert has created a global following for his cartoon lobster persona and his hyper pop history paintings. "I became an artist when I became a Lobster" says Colbert. That's how Colbert's work has received international acclaim in museums and galleries worldwide for his energetic new approach to painting and pop theory.
Under lockdown, Colbert's shrunken horizons and own social media echo chamber prompted him to conceptualise Lobsteropolis as his response to the pandemic. He believes that seeing art in situ is an important part of society and a culture in which people are free to do things for themselves.
We had the pleasure of talking to Philip a few days before lockdown and here's what he told us.
The concept of Lobsteropolis is unique, what is connection for you?
Lobsteropolis for a new world for my Lobster Persona. The use of telepresence robots allows the artistic dimension of this world to exist in a unique space. During lockdown when art was moving more online and digital, I was drawn to the idea of doing something bold in the physical world that would be viewed by robots to create a unique artistic experience. I wanted Lobsteroplois to be a bold new world for my lobster persona and his continuing dialogue with art history and his own creative possibilities. I liked the idea that the experience would be a bit like sending cameras into a shipwreck, I felt this lockdown period created the opportunity to explore a sci-fi future that had become much more real.
Lockdown was a moment of struggle for a lot of people, you decided to turn this into an experience for yourself and your viewers, how did you come up with the idea?
Yes, it was a difficult time, I felt lucky that I was able to still work on my art from home, many shows were cancelled or rescheduled but on the bright side I was able to take time to work on new ideas. At first I created an Art against the virus campaign. To raise money for charities helping with Covid-19 aid. I had been talking with Saatchi about doing a show, and despite the difficulty of planning a show I felt there was an opportunity to do something bold and positive.
Why a lobster and not something else?
I was always drawn to the lobster as a character or surrealism. I started wearing suits that I made with my lobster drawings on them, and people started calling me the Lobster man. And it evolved from there
You showcase the power of social media, how much are they essential to you personally as an artist?
I think it provides artists with a direct platform to communicate with an audience. This is super helpful for young artists to build an audience and following for their work.
Lobsteropolis might look funny to the viewer but it's strong and meaningful, what is your main message when we walk into the gallery?
I hope the show empower's people with positive creative energy, I very much believe in the power of everyday language and creating new possibilities for art, I believe the idea that everyone is an artist and in my work there is a sort of riot of bright primary colours and accessible language that seeks a profound and thoughtful message for the viewers, there is an irreverent mix of high and low ideas of art theory and visual analysis of hyper visual consumption and our time, and hopefully empowers the spirt of individualism and spirit against the system .
You've collaborated with Tate Modern and Frieze London. What's next for you?
I just opened a show at the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai, I wasn't able to travel there sadly due to the pandemic but hopefully can visit it next year. Otherwise am working now from home in Lockdown on new works for next year.
In a 2021 without pandemic, what is next for Philip Colbert?
Next year hopefully the virus will be behind us, I am planned to launch a collaboration with Adidas worldwide in May, I have a show in Tokyo in Feb, and have a Museum show in Seoul in March.
Follow Philip Colbert's journey HERE.