Paul Robertson, an Australian artist who works exclusively in the medium of pixel art, creates startlingly gorgeous images that are loving and esoteric homages to anime, video games, and popular culture. He has created sprites for several popular video games, most recently Mercenary Kings and Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why’d you Steal Our Garbage?, and also memorably did some pixel work for an episode of Gravity Falls entitled “Fight Fighters” (see a clip below). However, it’s his shiny non-commercial work that intrigues me the most. Awash in animated rainbow colours, he creates scenes that seem as if they were dreamed up by a sick god, or perhaps the internet. Using all manner of images, from anime inspired cute animals and women, monsters and insects, he creates animated images that represent the journey towards a higher understanding that cartoon and gamer aesthetes might achieve through rigorous meditation – on acid.
Robertson’s combination of pixel art and psychedelia is a fitting reminder of the power of games on our subconscious as he uses the style to explore the deeper truths. Not merely a shallow reflection of video games, Robertson’s work is an exploration of the infinite, religion, and the act of genesis. In “Evolution” above, Robertson manages to seamlessly blend recognizable symbols such as ouroboros at the bottom, representing the infinite cycle of life, with cute kittens and building blocks featuring Homer Simpson, Shrek, and Garfield at the top. The result is that the reverent and irreverent become one and the same, that games and cartoons have the power to lead to a higher truth. His work often features profound journeys, such as “Expedition” on the right, which features a exploratory march through our DNA, or “Keep Going” below, featuring a road-trip towards a personal god. His works are looped, suggesting perhaps that the journeys towards answers to the tough questions are never ending. Anime-inspired Women feature predominately in his work, usually at the pinnacle of his mad creations, often appearing as an angelic figure overseeing the journey or evolution below. The effect is striking, as if he is demonstrating reverence for the creative and life-giving power of women.
His independent video work also features similar esoteric themes blending religion, retro video games, pop culture, and powerful women (be warned, your brain might be folded in upon itself by watching it). His Youtube video from 2008 entitled Kings of Power 4 Billion% has heroes team up against a never-ending army of boys from outer space who shape shift Akira style into grotesque monsters and adorable chibi-maidens, both equally terrifying and powerful. In one memorable bit the spaceboys ride on top of Buddha like a tank and attack with a giant palm, and when an even greater threat than the spaceboys arrive, a giant cross is summoned for the creation of “The New Ultimate Jesus” which draws all manner of pop-culture icons to it splayed as if to be crucified. The final boss of this video is an innocent looking girl, the avatar of life and death, who spews all manner of effluvium over the heroes and obliterates them. It has to be seen to be believed.
Paul Robertson’s work represents a merger of the old and the new, humankind’s constant search for answers to life’s hard questions, with the modern idols worshipped by nerdy boys and girls around the world. His new religion is a personal one, where answers are sought not through the church, but through the lens of our own nerdy culture.
You can follow Paul Robertson’s work on Tumblr.