All artwork by Rosemarie Auberson
1. A Mark of a Lighter Purple 05
2. A Mark of a Lighter Purple 03
3. A Mark of a Lighter Purple 12
4. Emerald Green Like A Forname
All images courtesy of Francis Gallery
In conversation with artist Rosemarie Auberson
BY ZSUZSANNA TOTH
Colours, too soft to give them a name. Shapes, bold and grounded, offering space for the wandering soul to rest upon. Swiss-born Paris-based artist Rosemarie Auberson’s paintings and illustrations are both simple and complex; they nourish the self by guiding without educating; they are mysterious, complex, challenging the eyes, evoking emotions. For me, they are segments of a universe I would like to engage with every day.
Being a contemporary painter means constantly investigating the balance between an artist’s soul and the maker’s tools. It also means being able to differentiate between the daily flood of images we surround ourselves with and the intentions and depth of the spiritual mind.
When asked, Rosemarie spoke about the complexity of finding and keeping her balance within her self and her work, the question of whether an artistic mind and practice can be inherited, and the (non-)reality of art and design today.
ZSUZSANNA TOTH: You have a background in both design and art. Where do you draw the line between these fields, if at all?
ROSEMARIE AUBERSON: I don’t draw [the] line. A very good table [made] with good materials can have the same impact as a wonderful painting to the soul. Living with objects, the things we care [about], is important. I believe in intelligent, nurtured design, art, architecture, music, literature—all of them on the same level. All of these fields should be filled with thoughts and reflections, which are harder to find nowadays.
Why do you feel that is the case?
Consumerism is everywhere; its impact is devastating. So today, it is more difficult to find something that can have a real good impact on your soul. You have to search deep for it.
Your work is marked by a unique play between soft colours, undefinable lines, and abstract shapes. Where do they come from? Memories, feelings, or present observations?
Most of all they reflect memories of former observations, of photos I took or movies I saw. They can be shapes or specific colours that caught my mind. Recently I read this quote [from] Salman Rushdie about memory: ‘It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimises, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end, it creates its own reality.’ And he is so right. Memory is like clay to do something new.
Your mother was an artist too. Do you think artistic talent, or a specific sense for aesthetics, can be inherited?
It is a mysterious topic, rooted in the unconscious and generated by memories too. I remember very well how my mother explained a painting [by] Barnett Newman in a museum in Scotland to me when I was a teenager. It was a very large red painting with a few vertical white lines and a dark one. She talked about the distance between the lines, the rhythm it gives to the painting. She spoke about how the whites and the darks plays with / on the red. It was as if she was travelling across the painting and couldn’t help to share it.
Speaking of sharing, the number of visuals spread across vast digital landscapes are seen by many creatives as both a blessing and a curse. Ideas coming from our own brains and souls are blurred and altered by objects and arts being fed to us, which we consume, which consume us. Do you find it hard to differentiate between these?
You are totally right, and you express something I strongly feel. I couldn’t have said it better. I think my work is also a re-appropriation of my own visual memory. It is a way to let my mind sink inside as opposed to the outside, to forget but simultaneously make something out of all these images I see all the time.
Painting is both mental and physical too. On the one hand, you have the message; on the other hand, the physicality of the painting. And then there is the act of painting which takes you somewhere else without any control while you are trying to control it. This contradiction is fully real in contrast to the digital world where you are uncertain about “reality” and the fact that others might define it for you.
I am probably designing less today because it became so difficult to invent something new, something different and personal. We see so many things. I feel a bit tired, and it became hard to be excited by something in this continuous flow. Luckily there are still designers that can create and invent a different language.
Where do you go if you have an artistic blockage?
I read. I go for a walk. But also I go back to work, even if it is just to do small drawings, exercises. Creating art is a bit like gymnastics. You have to keep practising, failing, then trying again.
Can you explain the development of your colour schemes?
No, not at all. It is purely instinctive and natural. The effect of the colour on myself feels very physical.
Do you feel like your work is mirroring your soul, and if so, in what sense?
I think it is inevitable that our work reflects who we are. It always shows how your mind works, the hierarchy of your thoughts. I like the work to stay a bit unfinished, in progress. It is a way to stay open, and [it] lets the viewer take part in the process. On the other hand, I like to be in between things, on the edge of something. I don’t like it when things are too fixed. It is important not to stay in a comfort zone, to explore.
At which moment in your process do you feel ready, finished, fulfilled? Can an artist actually ever be in these states?
There are always these short moments of fulfilment, but they never last. I would probably be bored if I am too satisfied by what I am doing. The best moment is when I am working. The process, the research is a journey that can be more interesting to me than the result.
What are you working on this week?
I am working on a project of exhibition. Ceramics, books, screenprints. Multiple disciplines, all at the same time.
Unrelated but so relatable: what is the last meal you ate?
My breakfast: coffee and bread with honey.