In Voerman’s work, architecture plays a major role. The architecture in his work is often characterized by a mixture of utopia, destruction and decay. The architecture is often paired with a rich decoration, combined with dark aspects of terror and resistance. Somethimes the architecture seems to be a direct translation of destruction in a purely aesthetic form, like materialized explosions forming gigantic glass domes.
The work is layered and aesthetics elements in his work have often various associations. Associations towards religion, improvised shelters and hippie communities from the 70s with their often highly decorated self-build wooden structures, they all seem to compete with each other within his works.
The work is undeniably shaped by the fact that Voerman grew up in the Netherlands; an overly disigned country with no space for fringes and undefined places. Even before he started of his career as an artist, Voerman wanted to oppose this rigid way of urban planning and dealing with public space and how this space is being used or not used. His motivation to study landscape and garden architecture was infuenced by that. But also the hybrid forms and functions of his constructions is shaped by that. Recently, his approaches found more acclaim in the the world of architecture and urban planning. This is why Voerman is regularly asked to present his work and ideas on platforms connected to the field of urban planning and architecture.
Voerman's ouvre is, in a sense, a commentary and reflection on our times from a personal perspective and necessity.
The work suggests its own thoughts, opposite associations and models through sculptures, prints, watercolors, large installations and photoworks.
Over the years, Voerman also engaged in his work more directly to the architecture and ideas of Modernism in relation to our present time. Regularly, Voerman makes references to the architecture of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rietveld and Mies van der Rohe. This interest in modernism and his ambivalent relation to it is not a complete surprise. Although modernism in many ways seemed to have failed, Voerman thinks that some of their ideas are still relevant in present times. Grand ideas and views as imagined by the modernists seem nowadays completely gone. The fragmented clear views of the modernists towards a bright future, seem to be replaced by kaleidoscopic views through small colored windows in Voerman’s dwellings.
This work is in a way a reference to how complex the world has become and how difficult it has become to come up with clear utopian visions nowadays.
A very important part of his work are Voerman’s site-specific installations. Whereas in the early years his installations were just places for reflection or occasianally became a bar and meeting place. Later he brought these installations on an other level.
They became often places to host gatherings, performances and an open setting for the local people. The overall concept, the programming and setting in which each work is being build are every time closely related to the local context or is reflecting on a specific theme.
The installations are not produced to make moral statements about certain topics and ideas. They are, in a way, attemps to re-define a local context socially and culturally by involving local people and organize events and performances on site. In other occasions, the installations become a platform to try to develop new strategies or new or clearer points of view in relations to topics like ecology, urban planning, etc.
In the work “The Exchange” for example, Voerman proposed a new currency connecting the financial world with ecology. And with the work “Pavilion Halfway”, Voerman proposed an newly adjusted urban design in an existing modernist neighbourhood.
With all these installations and projects, it is crucial to create an open and inviting setting, even while building these works on site; in order to reach a broad audience and have everyone involved, even people who are not familiar with contemporary art. Being a good host and trying to treat everyone involved and the local audience equal, is very important for Voerman in order to create an open discours.
The works Voerman makes in his studio and the installations are both an important part of his practice. They feed each-other with ideas and new forms. And by this hybrid practice, he in a way connects the intimate autonomous studio-practice to the world outside the museum- and gallery-walls.
In some very recent works, Voerman is starting to develope a body of work in which he is referring in a more direct way to ecological- and social issues we will have to face in the coming decades. In these works he started focussing on ideas of shrinkage of population, economical growth and use of land. His works are getting a more utopian appearance. A work like “Ancester City”, and the installation “The Exchange” are part of these first attempts. Voerman is beginning to develop a utopian world of high-rise towers functioning as burial-chambers, new living communities, with clear divisions between the digital and analog world and divisions between civilization and empty land. This is still in a fairly early stage and this is something Voerman will further develop over the coming years in new photoworks, prints, sculptures and installations.
Rob Voerman, 2018