Voorwerk 1 was the first exhibition in a yearly recurrent series. Voorwerk, meaning preliminary work, is Witte de With’s annual exhibition of younger artists. As a series, it seeks to provide the first substantial presentation of works by relatively unknown artists. Within the art world’s tendency to formulate relationships, Voorwerk is a peripheral event, captivating because of the heterogeneous character of the work. There are no common denominators or themes in these exhibitions, rather the artists’ works and ideas are left open for comparison.

Voorwerk 1, the first in the Voorwerk series, presented works by Italian artist Doriana Chiarini (1952), Dutch artist Aernout Mik (1962), British artist Fiona Rae (1963), and American artist Kay Rosen.

Doriana Chiarini presented elegant objects that mixed design and art. Miniature chairs cut out of paper and doll furniture were paired with large, abstract sculptures that functioned as pedestals. Chiarini’s combination of materials and historical styles of design and fine art rendered a rather personal breed of minimal sculptures.

Aernout Mik combined sculpture and photography. He showed his Dummies series which consists of cushions from photographic linen, loosely modeled after the human body, that are photographically printed with children’s portraits taken from the history of photography. Each dummy bears a porcelain plate, printed with a photograph of a landscape or city which functions as a personal souvenir, as a commemorative of a special memory. These private images seem to reveal traces of the personal histories of the unknown children, who feature on the photographic skins of the dummies.

Fiona Rae presented abstract paintings, combining primary colors into a range of atmospheres. She loads her paintings with ironical references to the history of abstract painting, quoting from Kandinsky and Mondrian, and commenting on the loss of meaning in painting.

Kay Rosen’s textual paintings reveal visual jokes, taken from sayings, pulp novels, telephone directories, etc. Breaking down grammar and disfiguring words, Rosen aims to encode meaning, then engender reading. Her paintings of language create a fine tension, holding together visual and verbal, sense and nonsense. By playing with syllables, as in “bullet/riddl-/ed ed/shot/back” or “NO/NO/AH AH/NO/AH,” meaning is consciously liberated and altered.