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. Often even 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-built 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 overdesigned country with no space for fringes and un-defined places. Even before he started 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 influenced by that. But also the hybrid forms and functions of his constructions are shaped by that. Recently his approaches found more acclaim in 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 oeuvre is in a sense also a commentary and reflection on our times, of course, from a personal perspective and necessity.
The work suggests there own thoughts, opposite associations and models through sculptures, prints, watercolours, large installations and photographs.
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 seems 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 coloured windows in Voerman’s dwellings.
It is indeed a reference to how complex the world has become and how difficult it has become to come up with clear utopian visions nowadays.
Avery important part of his work is his site-specific installations. Where-as in the early years his installations where just places for reflection or occasionally became a bar and meeting-place. Later he brought these installations on another 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 built are very time closely related to the local context or is reflecting on a specific theme.
The installations are not being made to make clear statements about certain topics and ideas. They are in a way small attempts to get the people and the local environment to tell and formulate the state of their neighbourhood, their situation they are in.
However, Voerman does formulate some ideas, for example in the work 'The Exchange', where he came up with a new currency. And in the work Pavilion Halfway, by which he proposed a new adjusted urban design in a modernist neighbourhood.
But in general, he tries to create an open and inviting setting, even while building these works, in order to reach a broad audience. Being a good host and trying to treat everyone equal, is very important for him in order to create an open discourse.
The works Voerman makes in his studio and the installations are both an important part of his practice. They in a way feed each-other with ideas and new forms. And by this hybrid practice, he also connects the intimate studio-practice to the world outside the museum- and gallery walls.
And by this way of working he is also able to make connections to various other fields like urban planning, economy, architecture and local communities.
Rob Voerman, November 2018