“My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.” — Agnes Martin
Artist Rosemarie Auberson creates entire worlds with simple shapes, nuanced color, and pared back abstraction. Based in Paris, we’ve long been drawn to her work, which manifests in an interdisciplinary mix of painting, collage, drawing, and art direction, each orchestrated with a clearly defined point of view. Curious about the woman behind the work, we emailed with Rosemarie for years before we were able to visit her at home last month — and what follows is our conversation on pushing limits, embracing fragility, and finding one’s own rhythm.Interview by Leigh Patterson, photos by Gemma Ingalls
I was born in Switzerland, in Lausanne, next to the Leman Lake, close to the mountains. I spent my childhood drawing all the time. My mother was an artist in Japan before she left for Switzerland. I studied painting and art history in Geneva at sixteen. Then I hesitated between the two, but I left for Paris, a bit by chance, to study graphic design. I think it was mainly a pretext to leave Switzerland and live in Paris.
Very ordinary. Waking at 7 is always intense with two kids. Then they leave for school and my working day can start; I work better in the morning. After lunch, a walk with the dog. I go on working till the kids come back at 5:30 pm. I love spending my evenings with family or friends at home or outside. I try to never work late. I usually go to bed a bit too late, around midnight.
I try to conceive my work as a language, a vocabulary that is enriched by recurring forms, which come from the observation of real elements that I bring to a kind of abstraction. The idea for me is to create a kind of sensation of the undefined, a balance between finished and unfinished. I try to evoke something that’s simultaneously imperfect, fragile, and strong. I like exploring the space between the beautiful and the almost “un-beautiful.” The almost-nothing. I like exploring this limit.
Always. There is always a moment of joy and plentitude when I work, and I have the sensation of reaching something I felt I have been looking for. At the same time there are these awful moments when nothing comes out. There are many unsuccessful attempts. But I realize I need to accept these moments as part of the rhythm of creation, which is difficult to control and which can sometimes be very slow.
How do you create your color palettes?
Colors are always important. I like contrast between strong, pure colors and more undefined and subtle ones. It’s difficult to explain my choice of colors, it’s pretty natural and instinctive. I imagine my work already starts when I buy paint. I’ve always been sensitive to the work of painters who dare strong colors, like Matisse, Gauguin, Hockney, Peter Doig . . .
“I’m very careful not to have ideas, because they are inaccurate” — Agnès Martin
Something obvious that I am experiencing this year (but which is very complex in practice) is to be connected with the present. I am working to let the mind “be” in the moment. It changes everything. It helps me appreciate the small pleasures, the little nothings, and moments of happiness. It also helps to naturally sort out things that are useless. And of course it makes us more sensitive to what surrounds us; it is a virtuous circle.
Walks, reading, and sleep. Time alone for myself (very rare unfortunately). Eating good food — I’m ok with walking kilometers in order to access good vegetables and bread every day.
What is next for you?
Hopefully going on exploring my work more and more deeply.