The lobby is plastered with the drawings his children Edouir (5) and Ellie (9) made of the Lloyd Hotel and its surroundings. Perhaps these are the budding works of a next generation of artists, for the Swiss Rabus family covers already two generations of them. “I do not know of a hotel in Switzerland that would organise space for children as well as the Lloyd. They would have a nice playground but with an unpleasant esthetics.”
He kindly takes some time before their check-out to have a chat, with the help of his partner Anna for translations.
This is the second visit to Amsterdam with the whole family. The first time was twenty years ago, he was an adolescent back then.
“The difference is: twenty years ago I was not interested in visiting the museums, and this time it was not possible to visit the museums because the children are too small to enjoy them”.
How does a family exhibition come together?
“Every member of the family has a different body of work. My father Alex is more politically orientated, my mother Renate more ecologically orientated, and my brother Till has very different type of work again. We all bring a number of works and look on the spot how to compose an exhibition.
A lot of artists are worried about the circumstances in a museum, how to show their work in the context of that of other artists etc. We are not interested in these issues. We react on the space but don’t think about it beforehand.”
The Rabus family lives close together in the small village of Cortaillod.
“I have my studio in the garden of my parents, and yes we see each other a lot. I try to work eight hours per day. There are three qualifications that pursue me. My work is seen as surrealist, with which I do not agree. I don’t invent an idealistic world. For me it is more a representation from another point of view. The questions I pose myself are closer to those of David Hockney than of André Breton. My work is also often described as terrifying, and as rural. I don’t really like that either. It is true that at the moment I like painting cows, but not in a traditional way. From close-by they are fascinating, like mobile sculptures. They move slowly, they are mysterious, calm. In Amsterdam, I like the way things look at the back of houses. It is not a rural scene, but the way stuff accumulates without any aesthetic intention."
And the terrifying aspect?
We live in a world that likes to see an artist as tormented, who makes sinister work. I think it is more courageous to paint scenes of happiness in daily life, and I would much more try to make work that is enthusiastic about eroticism, choice, than about emptiness, banality and darkness. I find that boring, and am more inspired by 19th century painters: a woman in a room, vanitas scenes. And than I like the aspects of realistic scenes that are a bit uneasy, or clumsy.
Going back to Cortaillod, does he need time to switch back to another rhythm?
“Not at all. I saw a small painting by Gerard ter Borch, and now I really can’t wait to take up my brushes and paint.”