German painter Yvonne Robert’s personal pursuit is the effect of colour and form.
Her work is about choosing compositions and colour that create tension and evoke a reaction in the viewer. Robert works hard to create tension with maximum reduction but one rather sees her canvases as being built upon with layers and forms of colour. The works appear as patchworks of rectilinear and circular forms that jostle with each other to conceal rather than revealing elements that lay underneath. It is as though the artist wishes to reveal nothing about herself and instead everything of the viewer. She unwittingly creates an intentional platform upon which the viewer can exist to reflect upon and find themselves and their own emotion(s) within. Where line-work is present, it leads to other shapes and forms like the roads on a map that lead to new places that give new experiences.
For Robert, it is not the thoughts and emotions of the artist that are important, but that of the viewer. After all, it is our individual perception that gives us clarity and a true sense of understanding. For example, I might consider the sky blue, as do you, but do you and I consider ‘blue’ as one and the same? And that is where the work of Robert is poignant. She brings the viewer back to themselves, highlighting their own unique perspective.
You are an artist with a successful commercial / graphic design background. What drew you to pursue a career as a fine artist? It has been my original wish for as long as I can remember. I only studied graphic design out of reason. The art professor I showed my work to when I was 15 years old said I was too young, and that I showed him typical teenage stuff. He said that I should instead study something solid. Such as graphic design. I was very depressed afterwards, but I followed his advice. I trained in Basel where I had a great time. Fortunately, a lot of emphasis was placed on drawing, painting and colour. So I was able to deepen my inquiry into these things.
After 20 years of graphic design, I felt little motivation. In my spare time I always painted. Two years ago I started posting images of my paintings on Instagram and got a lot of positive feedback. So one thing resulted to another and I finally dedicated myself to being an artist full-time.
You have been very successful in a short span of time. How did you get the attention of industry players such as émergent magazine, Abstract Magazine, Paul Smith and Cheryl Hazan Gallery in New York amongst others? Everyone has approached me through Instagram. Without Instagram I would probably still be working as a graphic designer. Thanks Insta!
What do you hope to achieve as an artist? I really appreciate the fact that I can exhibit internationally. Although, I would like a gallery from Switzerland or Germany to approach me. Otherwise I just wish that my ideas never run out.
Your practice to date has been heavily influenced by the fundamentals of abstraction and reduction, however, lately you have been exploring the possibilities of figurative representation. What is driving you to paint works that are representational? I have often painted figuratively. Around 2004-2015 I painted dog portraits! I like to paint the character, the facial expression of my subjects. Of course colour plays a big role in my portraiture too.
Painting figuratively or work that is representational I find it a good distraction and I gain distance to the abstract pieces. When I look at my abstract painting again I notice new things.
It is something completely different to paint representatively. I am required to concentrate to reflect something concrete. The works have completely different challenges. I love the variety. I need variety otherwise I get bored.
After spending time with you, it is utterly clear that the primary element of importance in your work is colour. What drives you to paint? That is a difficult question because it's a kind of automatism. It's fun; it's a passion. Things you like to do you do voluntarily. As I said earlier, I express my fascination with something in this way. We all constantly take (millions of) photos of things we find remarkable. I try to capture those things partly through painting.
Sometimes I lie in bed and think of new colour combinations. I can't wait to try it the next morning. As long as that doesn't stop, that’s what drives me.