The penguins (2002) Herman Lamers

photo Jacques Kleisterlee
About the artwork

The artwork The penguins by the Rotterdam artist Herman Lamers was created in 2002 as part of the Strategic Neighborhood Approach North. With funding from the percentage scheme that was still functioning at the time, the Noord district, the Urban Development & Housing Department (DS+V) and CBK Rotterdam worked in close consultation with the residents of Bleiswijkplein on the interpretation of this art assignment. The residents came up with the idea to give the art application the theme 'wind rose', as a metaphor for a multicolored society that has come here from all directions. The artist was also expected to add a playful element, also to prevent the square from being used further as a dog walking area. Herman Lamers made a compass rose from a sand-colored terrazzo floor with an inlaid mother-of-pearl-colored line structure. The plateau of five by five meters, where The penguins standing is also designed as a tree grate, but it looks like a stage and speaker corner. The tree grid has the pattern of geographical rings on the atlas and thus refers to the origin of the birds, namely the South Pole. The terrazzo is sand colored as opposed to water or ice colors, which penguins are normally associated with. The serious look in the eyes of the two birds and their posture seem human. These surreal and human connotations create an intimate and playful atmosphere on the square. Penguins are popular as a species due to their cuddly factor and the fact that their build resembles that of humans. That is also one of the comparisons Lamers draws with his images. The size ratio of a larger and a smaller one (man-woman or parent-child) reinforces their humanity. For example, some find the images strikingly like Dutch people, with beer belly and all.

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About the artist

Herman Cornelis Lamers (Bussum, 1954) is a Rotterdam sculptor, installation artist, photographer and draftsman. He studied from 1975 to 1980 at the Minerva Academy in Groningen. He always works in a spatial, sometimes abstract but more often in a figurative visual language, always dependent on and in relation to the environment. His work can be seen in galleries and exhibition spaces and he has various commissions in public space, including a number in Rotterdam.

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