My younger daughter often asks me: «Mummy, what is your favourite colour?» My answer: «Right this minute, mustard yellow, but it’s changing all the time…»

Yvonne Robert
Zürich, Schweiz.


Tell us a little about yourself. Where did your passion for art begin?

My passion for art began at such a young age that I can’t exactly remember. I grew up in an artistic family.
My mother studied painting 
in Detroit and Munich and my father painted as a hobby. He worked principally as a textile engineer and was responsible for printing textile designs on various fabrics. Among other things, he printed the wonderful 1960s cushion cover designs by Verner Panton. We had a few “samples” on the sofa at home. I loved their colours and patterns. Perhaps they already contributed back then to my liking for the sixties. We had a great house with a huge studio. You could find every possible colour lying around in it and I experimented with oils, acrylics, watercolours and charcoal.
After school, I wanted to study painting but a professor at the art school in Basel who I showed my work advised me against it. He thought I was too young, showing him typical pictures by a teenager (:-) and I would be better off acquiring a solid career first. If it was going to be creative, then possibly graphic design. Obviously I was very disappointed, but nevertheless, I took his advice and studied graphic design in Basel. To my delight, the art school put a great emphasis on craft so I was able to develop my painting and drawing skills.
After leaving art school I worked in various design agencies in Munich and Zürich, then in 1999 I set up the Büro4 agency in Zürich with three other partners. While I was working at the agency I rented a studio and painted there once a week. This is when I started producing my first portraits of dogs. Working at the agency is all-consuming and always requires something new creatively, socially and in terms of content. But with great teamwork and the friendship of my partners it was possible to make time for painting and since taking a sabbatical in December 2017 it has really flourished.

We would like to learn more about your work. What are the meanings that you put into your pictures?

I’ve been doing the abstract painting for a long time now. With this form of painting, I enjoy focusing on the effect of colours and forms. It’s liberating somehow not to have to portray something concrete. I’d like my paintings to have a strong presence. They should fascinate the viewer, convey a feeling. I’m always looking for compositions and colours that create tension with maximum reduction. The challenge is to produce a reduced picture without it seeming ordinary. My daughter said the other day that anyone can do what I do. I know what she means. I can’t reproach her for it. She’s right. Everyone should try it for themselves and discover the nuances.
If you go to Pinterest or Google and enter “yellow circle, abstract painting” for example, the hits you get will be all seem very similar at first sight. And yet you linger over some of them in particular.
Why is that? Perhaps 
because the proportions are better or you like a particular yellow more? You can’t always explain it. It’s a feeling. It’s right (for someone), it strikes a chord, it’s refined despite its simplicity.
I’ve had love for and interest in colours my whole life. I can’t adequately describe the feeling of what it’s like when you blend shades and apply the colour to the canvas. More than anything it’s a very deep sense of happiness.  Perhaps like when a chocolate-lover takes a bath in it. My younger daughter often asks me: “Mummy, what is your favourite colour?” My answer: “Right this minute, mustard yellow, but it’s changing all the time…”
One recent comment I received was: “Your pictures radiate calm and clarity”. Somehow everyone’s inner feelings are reflected in their pictures. And if that’s calm and clarity with me, I think that’s a very positive thing!

How does your new picture start? Do you prepare any sketches in advance?

I often do sketches. It may sound a bit of a cliché but I always have my sketchbook to hand. If something inspires me, I quickly jot it down. And then when I’m in my studio, I take a look at my sketches and consider which ones would be suitable for a larger format. It doesn’t always work and then I opt for another one. Often the end product in acrylic will be completely different from how I thought it would be. Unforeseeable things happen like the brush slips out of my hand leaving a huge splodge behind. But I love these chance occurrences.

What inspires you most of all to create new paintings?

I can’t give a general answer to that. It varies so much. But often it’s forms and colours from the world of fashion (I love Dries van Noten’s collections for example). Plants often inspire me because of their forms. When I walk through the neighbourhood I keep picking up motifs by chance. Then I see details that are interesting as if through a frame.

What are your plans for this year? Are there any offers for exhibitions?

From 12 May until July I have a solo exhibition at the Kunstsalon Zürich. Other than that I’m taking part in two competitions: one for a group exhibition in London that’s taking place in January 2019 and the other for a mural painting and building art in Zürich.

Your thoughts that you want to share with our readers.

I don’t have anything important to impart but I’d like to thank Abstractmag very much for asking me. This is my first interview! That really is something.

Photos by Roland Tännler

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