The Tokyo Teien Art Museum asked me to share my opinion about decoration. Herewith my vision;
My work blurs the line between fine art and design. Creating casts and molds of architectural fragments, spaces, and bodies, which people can interact with. My work questions the way in which form and function directly effect the relationship between the viewer and the work. One of the most striking examples is my cast of the Porta del Paradiso by Lorenzo Ghilberti (1378-1455). I collaborated with mold-maker Oscar Paanen to create a contra-mold of the inverted Gates of Paradise. From this cast I created a stand-alone reproduction: a piece that simultaneously serves as a functional object and an autonomous work of art. This approach allows me to appropriate the history of architecture and reconfigure it into a physical, tangible presence in space. Elements in Time is a continuation of these ideas, for which I created playful rubber objects that take on the iconic, art-historical shapes and design. Each piece is unique and invites new interpretations of architecture and their associated cultures. The architectural ornament plays a big role my the work Elements in Time.
Ornaments are in most cases characterized by styling, a repetitive motif and symmetry. For example, they may aim to bring the observer of something to be informed, thoughts so generate or to give a certain feeling. I realized that ornaments in architecture are mostly never displayed next to each other. Although there is still a big creed for modernism and minimalism in my ideas the ornament can play a bart in these spaces. Without them what’s left?
Back in the days simplicity is good, decoration unnecessary.. Until recently, a large majority of the leading population would have spontaneously agreed there. On the one hand, from a Dutch tendency to soberness, and on the other hand because the good taste so commanded. Decoration, that was frills, that was excessive. From bridal builder to fashion designer, everyone disturbed the ornament. Not that this was a pure Dutch thing. The most radical contestant of the ornament, Adolf Loos (1870-1933), was the son of an Austrian construction worker. He was himself an architect and designer, making himself immortal in 1908 with an article whose title says everything: Ornament und Verbrechen, Decoration and Crime. Primitive nations such as Indians and Papuans, so declared Loos, decorate everything, to their own skin. They also eat their enemies. We, on the other hand, civilized as we are, have brushed us on the ornament. Let's be proud of that!
But the blood flows where it can not go - the ornament did not break out. No wonder: the tendency to decorate (apart from the disturbing adjective that has that word in today's Dutch) is in fact born. Who is able to put fruit on a self-baked pie without paying attention to the pattern they form? Who has peace with a slanting tie, or a room with four empty walls? Order and ornament go smoothly together, as the great art historian Ernst Gombrich explained, no human being can live with chaos.
You could say that Loos' proved untrue, and the ornamentlessness he sought outdated. It makes this book all the more relevant. The world of now you can only understand if you know the opposite pole.