Robert Young

Robert Young: Sampler – Enhanced multiple plate intaglio, linocut, woodcut
Printed for Artist’s for Kids

We had the great pleasure of having Robert Young, one of BC’s most respected senior artists, visit as a guest speaker in the Art Institute, Printmaking*** at Capilano University yesterday. He spoke first about his early years with dry humour, occasionally making various literary references to reveal the yearning, a desire “to run away” as he kept saying, which eventually led him to become an artist. He proudly wore his 40-year-old ink-stained printmaker’s apron and displayed his custom-made set of engraving tools and a few prints, one of them shown above. A slide presentation of his works followed. Very stunning and inspiring. Most of these works can be viewed at the site of the Atelier Gallery** in Vancouver, which represents him.


I can’t begin to find the right words to summarize Young’s life and work but thankfully, others have written about his work eloquently. For Artist’s for Kids, Robin Laurence wrote in part:

Although Robert Young is best known as a painter, his early art training was in printmaking, and it is a discipline he revisits periodically. In 1962, after completing a bachelor’s degree in art history at the University of British Columbia, Young left his native Vancouver, taking himself off to England, to the City and Guilds of London School of Art, where he studied etching, engraving and drypoint. He returned to Vancouver in 1964, studied graphic arts at the Vancouver School of Art, then set off again for London in 1966. It was during this second sojourn there, lasting a full decade (he returned permanently to Vancouver in 1976), that he began to paint, finding inspiration in a number of sources, including art history, photography, and the mass media.


Known for his intricate drawing, painting and printmaking, his work has a strong intellectual appeal and an impeccable sense of craft. For more than 45 years he has pursued a bold personal image synthesizing the environment with his strong philosophical and spiritual beliefs. He also shared his love of art and art history with students at U.B.C. for 16 years as Associate Professor in the faculty of Fine Arts.

In an excellent article in the Straight, Christopher Brayshaw wrote:

Between these extremes of illusionism and blunt facticity lies the work of Vancouver artist Robert Young, whose inventive paintings, drawings, and mixed-media collages defy easy categorization. Though he taught for years at UBC, Young is the antithesis of an academic artist, and is now, at almost 70, in the happy position of not really having any followers.

This is something that Young spoke about, the desire to not follow current movements or schools, or the call of curators or critics, but to follow his own path.


UPDATE Feb.28th, 2013: **The Atelier Gallery link no longer works and has been removed. This long time gallery has closed. Meanwhile, some of Robert Young’s work may be viewed at the Winchester Galleries.

***UPDATE Jan.3, 2014: In May 2013 this program (along with others) was eliminated. Link removed. To read about the Art Institute as it used to be, please visit this older post about it.

October 11, 2007 in Art Institute (Printmaking), Other artists by Marja-Leena