Derry artist to host new exhibition at Pilot’s Row

Monday, 29th November 2021, 3:01 pm

The new exhibition titled

‘Hood Art’ is open from now to December 2 at Pilot’s Row.

Squarebear produces profound pieces of work and writing which reflects society and life on planet Derry.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He depicts a satirical view of the world and replicates pieces of work which shine a light on the ideologies and agendas pushed by those in power.

The artwork is hilarious, politically charged and most of all fun.

Squarebear describes his new exhibition to be inspired by “low-fi meme culture, sesh culture and corporate globalism, which overshadows local Irish nationalism by referencing pop culture and art history.”

Q. Could you introduce yourself please?

My name is Paul Ruairi Devine, otherwise known as Squarebear. I’m a born and bred Bogsider inheriting strong undertones of rebellion and anti-establishment. I try to impact these ideas with all things subversive and creative artistically since I was a wee lad.

Q. What inspired you growing up as an artist in Derry?

The environment had a lot to draw from. I’m a bit more oldskool and seen the tail end of the conflict in the early 90s.

From a very early age I would get chalks and draw up town at busking festivals, alongside fringe types and street urchins meandering around the drop outs and early outsiders who loitered around what would become the now famous Nerve Centre.

I loved the old atmosphere, the brutalism in the architecture, the infancy of our knowledge of the outside world.

Stuff like that fascinates me looking back; I also had strong influences from magazines like 2000A.D. with Simon Bisley’s Judge Dredd, as well as all sorts of comics and trash magazines I’d pick up in town. It’s probably fair to say comics from the Dandy, and Beano right up to American sub-cultures. Robert Crumb has had a strong influences on me growing up.

Q. Who are your influences in life?

I have many archetypes and role models I draw from for many different reasons. Artistically I admire many people like Bill Hicks, Robert Crumb, David Bowie, Adam and Joe, Million Dollar Extreme, Kurt Cobain, Francis Bacon, Jean Michel Basquiat, Richard Pryor, Dash Snow, David Firth, Charles Bukowski, Keith Haring, Richard Feynman and Jesus Christ.

I have so many influences in life I could go on all day. Most of all

though, I like people that give their life for art, or for a cause

that is bigger or has higher purpose than them.

Q. Where is your favourite spot in Derry?

Brooke Park, empty with lots of snow; reminds me of being a wean.

Q. What message does your artwork represent?

My art follows the movement known as “Art Brut”. Working in several mediums including art, poetry, video, photo and meme culture.

It is essentially art for the disenfranchised and has anti-establishment ideals at its centre.

It uses romantic nationalist imagery against corporate pop culture and hedonistic sesh culture tropes which shows an alternative side to the usual cultural narrative.

Q. Who do you see as a cult hero in Derry?

Hands down, Jimmy McShane.He was the first person I ever met that had made it outside of Derry.

He was also the first person I knew of who had AIDS; I was just a wee lad at the time, and when my cousin told me about him being famous it blew my mind.

Especially considering the sensationalism of the disease at the time. Having being intrigued I discovered some really cool music through that man.

Someone who lived under his flat once told me he would sit up all night singing tunes playing on his expensive synth unit; I thought that was quite cool and extremely provincial.

I did chuckle knowing it had happened just off Bishop street. He was an interesting man from a different time in Derry; very cult I feel.

Q. Are there any local musicians or artists in Derry, who you feel are doing important work?

There are quite a good few artists. I especially like James King and his live performance stuff.

I consider that important in a kooky kind of way, I also have mad respect for The Barbiturates

and Shammen Deli, who will be doing soundtracks to a short film i’m slowly grinding on and hope to develop and flesh out more in the not too distant future.

Q. Do you have a motto or proverb in life?

“Never let the b****ds grind ye down”. It helps at the hardest of times and the best of times haha.

The exhibtion at Pilot’s Row will be open on Monday 3-6pm, Wednesday 2-6pm, Thursday 2-6pm and Friday 10am-1pm until December 2. You can follow Squarebear on Facebook, Youtube or Instagram.