• Robert Franken

Some would call Robèrt Franken’s works abstract but that’s not a term that Robèrt accepts in relation to his (or any) art. He firmly asserts that there is no such thing as abstract art.

“Paintings consist of lots of marks which add up to an image we recognise or not.

To me it is impossible to make an abstract painting. Any mark we make is intentional- be conscious or unconscious.

Life is not what it seems and in this fast-moving chaos, one must invent a language to convey what one feels. I use birds, fish and snakes as metaphorical messengers or symbols of transformation to tell my stories. A bird is like a fish in the sky and a fish is like a bird in the sea- they go places humans can’t go.

I include snakes as totems of healing and renewal. The day before I was diagnosed with cancer, I sat by myself in the botanical gardens and had a vision of a Cobra rising behind me. Since that time, I’ve incorporated snakes in my work.

When a painting is finished it has a life of its own, conveying its own meaning to whomever looks at it.”

Born in The Hague, The Netherlands, Robèrt is a sixth-generation artist in his family.

As a child, Robèrt lived in the studios of Mesdag which were connected with the Panorama Mesdag Museum. From 1963 to ’65 he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague and from 1965 to ’67 at the Free Academy of Arts, the Hague.

Robèrt is based in the Wellington region but travelled extensively, organising exhibitions in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China.

Over the years, Robèrt has employed fabric, glass engraving, ceramics and mosaic as well as oils and ink to create art.

At the Wellington’s centre is the Civic Square, developed as a pedestrian oasis connected to the waterfront and surrounded by art in the early 1980s. Robèrt’s contribution to this revitalization was sparklingly colourful mosaics at the bottom of shallow ponds between the old Town Hall and the Michael Fowler Centre, Robèrt’s ‘ponds’ were a delight for residents and visitors alike. Sadly, they no longer exist, sacrificed to the ongoing earthquake strengthening of Civic Square and the surrounding buildings.

Opening Hours

  • Monday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm
  • Sunday, 11am - 4.30pm


  • Corner of Norrie & Parumoana Streets (17 Parumoana Street)
  • Porirua City Centre, 5022