Gunnvor Advocaat was one of the pioneers of abstract painting in Norway. She trained to be an artist in The Hague and Oslo. A study trip to Paris in 1948 was her first, fateful encounter with modernism and post-cubism, with her own artistic breakthrough coming in the late 1950s.
Advocaat spent her summers in Norway and the rest of the year in Sicily, something that is reflected in her use of colour. From being highly simplified and figurative, her style evolved in the 1960s and 1970s to focus on harmonious surfaces, where contrasts between light and shade, large and small shapes, and jarring clashes and smooth transitions are at the heart of the non-figurative compositions.
In Yellow on Black, paint has been applied in translucent and transparent layers. The yellow, orange, pink, and red hues are subdued by the underlying black. In a few smaller areas, bright, unblended reds and yellows have been spread across the canvas. The upper-right corner features a streak of white on black: in the midst of all these warm, mellowcolours, the artist is perhaps hinting at the snow-capped mountains of Norway – a tiny dash of the cool North amid the balmy, sun-drenched tones of Sicily.
A confident sense of colour, rhythm, and form was Advocaat’s primary tool. She was a colourist, and the mood in the picture stems from contrasts, movements, and changes in light. The composition is as simple as it is complex. Concentrated around chromatic zones, the picture offers an aesthetic experience, even as it challenges the viewer.
Text: Anita Rebolledo
From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0