Critics’ Picks

Rob Voerman, The Fifth Season (detail), 2014. Installation view.

Amsterdam

Rob Voerman

Upstream Gallery
Kloveniersburgwal 95
January 18 - March 8

Rob Voerman has taken to task a direct social and political engagement in the presentation of his latest exhibition, “The Fifth Season.” This is also the title of the large installation, which seems arranged like a workshop, that one reaches first when entering the gallery: It functions as a place for discussion and other programming open to artists, political lobbyists, art institutions, and neighborhood community groups. The hanging lamp above the work’s invitingly large table is made up of slides of images culled from news coverage of war, slain animals, and crashed financial charts, among other topics, casting a brooding yet communal atmospheric light from the middle of the room.

Except for a single door opening, the installation is closed off to the rest of the gallery space. Voerman’s tinted windows and stained-glass patterns made of cardboard and colored plastic adorn any other light source. But through the glass, the rest of the exposition is still visible: a collection of watercolor drawings and sculptural works in the artist’s signature crude style, made with materials such as unfinished wood, house paint, epoxy, and bronze. Unité d’Habitation (all works cited, 2014) consists of a tall standing sculpture made of a wooden stilt-like construction and colored with references to Mondrian’s palette. Sitting on top is a warped cardboard model of Le Corbusier’s famous building in a seemingly derelict state. The drawing installed across from it, Inverse Modernity, is an equally forsaken vision, yet in this depiction traces of humanity are slightly discernible. Voerman seems to want to confront us with what it means to turn our backs on the greater modernist narrative and start over again. Only, this time, we’ve been equipped with the tools and materials more immediately attainable after a would-be apocalypse.