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New artists get place in Style Pavilion: 'They must be able to drill'

In the Style Year, events mainly look back at the art movement that began 100 years ago. Yet there are also contemporary initiatives that look ahead, such as in Amersfoort.

The Style Pavilion is being built from scaffolding material in the Keistad. Twenty contemporary, mostly young, visual artists will give the outside of the pavilion their own interpretation. They will be inspired by the building and/or the principles of De Stijl.

Mondrian mugs

Artists Mayke Verhoeven and Robert Roelink initiated the project together with Henk Logman, interior architect, art connoisseur and art lover. Logman describes how the project came about: 'The municipality of Amersfoort wrote a Open Call Visual Arts out for the Style Year. At the information meeting, Rietveld furniture and Mondrian mugs were displayed, fairly dull in other words. Other interested parties were mainly interested in where they could exhibit their own work, also not very innovative. That's when the idea arose to do something out-of-the-box.'

'A project to provide a stage for contemporary artists in an experimental way. That will be the Style Pavilion. It may be abrasive, it may be over-the-top and, above all, it should be very special and distinctive.'


Logman formulates his ambitions: 'First of all, we want to show that with a large dose of commitment, cooperation and perseverance it is possible to achieve something special in the visual arts in a short period of time. Secondly, we want to show that there is enormous potential in the Netherlands for young talent to create something special and unconventional.

'On three: the Style Pavilion is not meant to be a retrospective project, but rather one moving in the present time. We seek an answer to the question: what is left of De Stijl and how do contemporary artists deal with it? Finally: it is an art project in public space. We think it is important that the Style Pavilion is visible and accessible to everyone.

Drill press

When picking the artists, one of our criteria was the presence of 'sculptural qualities'. The artists had to be able to think and work 3D and not be shy about using materials and handling tools. In other words, they had to know how to handle a drill, for example.

Visual and expressive qualities were also considered and diversity of work was sought. We did not necessarily look for similarities with De Stijl: in fact, it can be very surprising and refreshing if someone opposes it."

Fuss in Amersfoort?

In Amersfoort, the position of visual artists has been the subject of much debate recently. We previously reported on the 'flight' of artists from the city. The Style Pavilion is completely separate from this, emphasises initiator Logman:

'It is not an attempt to improve or promote the position of visual artists in Amersfoort. It is, however, proof that there is plenty of potential for young contemporary visual artists. Not necessarily from Amersfoort. They are among them, but quality was our argument for selection, not that someone is an Amersfoort resident. That quality was further checked by the fact that we asked Kunsthal KAdE director Robbert Roos as curator.'

'We make a lot of connections: with the city, with the government, with companies, with existing art institutions and event organisers. That makes it a unique project and with it we put Amersfoort on the map when it comes to willingness to be able and willing to organise something for visual artists.'


'From the beginning, we as an organisation have been committed to and acted upon it, unlike many other art initiatives, putting the artists at the top of the pay scale. Without artists no art and therefore no Style Pavilion. Example: for submitting a sketch design, the artists received remuneration, even when it was not yet certain whether the Style Pavilion would actually be built. We also promised them a minimum fee for the execution, with the possibility of more earnings if the financing of the plan grows as well.'

Raising role

One of the participating visual artists is Maurice de Rooij (Zoetermeer, 1995). 'The conviction with which new ideas were translated into concrete buildings in the last century really inspires me,' he says. 'The Stijl movement is a telling example of this. You can read about it in De Stijl publications. Here it speaks of the artist/architect as 'educator of society through the new imagery.'

'As an artist, I try to play with this sense of persuasiveness and social engineering. So how does a building perform in its educational role, for example? What has 'the new' led to and what does that say about contemporary architecture.'

Do you create the work for the Style Pavilion spontaneously (on the spot) or is there a plan in advance?

'There is a plan beforehand. Materials that fit the architecture I want to refer to, I select in the process for the realisation of the work.'

To what extent is the work you make defined by the space, the project?

'For my work, it is important that it relates to the building in terms of size and architectural elements. The ideas underlying the Style Movement also play a big role in this. In addition, the large public space of the Trapezium invites (The location of the Style Pavilion - ed.) from thinking in large sculptures.'

Invisible forces

Artist Corine Zomer (Utrecht, 1983) is also contributing to the Style Pavilion. She emphasises the spiritualisation of art at De Stijl and compares it to her own very organic works.

'At De Stijl, it is not matter that is paramount, but the idea. With that premise, all natural elements, matter, are sifted out of art. My work, too, aims to express the spiritual. Instead, I use natural forms for this purpose. One reason is that forces that are invisible take shape in matter. I think it is important that you can see that something is made or caused, and not simply created. Human intervention emphasises the search for the higher. Figurative elements in an abstract image can take you by the hand to get from the material to the immaterial world.'


A straight line is a curved line. Sketch design by Corine Zomer.

What do you expect from the Style Pavilion?

'A very enervating encounter with De Stijl. An encounter that has the atmosphere of what I have just named. You can see that I have the same starting point as the artists back then and deal with it in my own way. It is also an encounter with other artists who relate to the predecessors of De Stijl in their own way.'

When is your contribution successful?

'If my work is as exciting as how I experience it now. And I don't mean a roller-coaster-like thrill, but one you feel when you meet two very different personalities who have to relate to each other.'

Good to know
The Style Pavilion will come up on the Trapezium, a piece of undeveloped land just behind Amersfoort central station. Construction will begin in a few weeks. For more information on the participating artists, exhibitions and concerts that will take place in the Style Pavilion, see or the Facebook page.

Onno Weggemans

At CulturePress, I combine my passion for culture with my love of writing. I have a broad cultural interest and target a wide audience. I like to choose a personal angle and like to experiment occasionally in terms of form.View Author posts

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