Kunstkerk, Dordrecht, Netherlands

荷蘭多德勒克 藝術教堂

Lugten Malschaert Architecten+ Studio Job|盧騰.馬爾沙爾特建築師事務所+ 喬布工作室

The Concept


Dutch Foundation Kunstkerk asked Job Smeets to create a monumental artwork for the newly launched creative space ‘KunstKerk’ in the historic town of Dordrecht in the Netherlands. Along with architect Andries Lugten, Foundation Kunstkerk turned the unused church building into a walkthrough to link two new creative spaces, commissioning Studio Job to create a landmark sculpture for the back of the building. Job’s idea was to create the ‘back’ as the front giving it equal or more importance thus changing the whole use of the building. "from Job’s idea, we worked together for an intense moment from which the current concept emerged" explains architect Andries Lugten "a free-standing work of art in form of a façade.”


The work is a surrealist sculpture based on the outline of the typical Dordrecht architecture, creating a landmark on the unused back side of the building. "My initial sketches started off as interpretation of the shapes of the front facade, but over time evolved into a composition that is about storytelling, our everyday life, about holding on to one another whilst the cockerel above freaks out. I wanted to portray shelter and togetherness with the form. Our decision to have glass drawings facing outwards instead of inwards was important to make it visible to everyone passing" explains Job Smeets, "It’s where art meets craft, and religion meets architecture.”





The casted bronze structure, hand-crafted in Studio Job’s Tilburg atelier over the course of two years, echoes 19th-century industrial architecture. It holds three giant glass windows containing the hand drawings of Studio Job that curve into the center of the sculpture to create an ‘embrace’ at over seven meters high. In complete contrast, the complex and highly contemporary glass baking technique was used in combination with the oldest way of producing, bronze casting. The building is adorned with casted bronze animals, a cockerel sits on the building’s pinnacle and shrieks as if aware of his fragile position atop the structure, whilst the four bronze turtles nobly bear the weight of the structure above. "The genius of the tortoises lies in the fact they carry the façade and have covered the distance from the recessed glass façade to the building line. Movement and time have become visible; a metaphysical experience. This is what art is." claims the building’s architect Andries Lugten regarding Job’s work.


Job Smeets continues, "The work is meant to play with the line between architecture and sculpture, the façade becomes a canvas for the expressive artwork. It could also be a huge piece of jewelry, a brooch. The strong structure firmly holds the ‘embrace’ together. It’s impactful as you first notice the unconventional shape of the windows from a distance. It's created to bring spirit to the KunstKerk, to be an identity, an object for interpretation, and a place to stop and have coffee."


這些玻璃板採用最新生產技術,實現最精準的顏色和細部烘烤。與傳統教堂不同,為讓路人得以一窺其貌,窗戶反常的向外呈現,而非只有裡面的人才能欣賞這些創作。在每個人物周圍,中世紀的圖騰被轉化為喬布.斯密茨(Job Smeets)風格中典型的狂野現代意象,代表生活主題的圖樣在作品中佔大多數。作品頂部和底部的動物雕塑作為建築中的經典元素,不僅是作品的結構且具有歷史意義。根據亞洲古早的習俗,烏龜放在後門會帶來智慧且能起到保護作用。頂端的公雞除了代表經典的風向儀,也是早期教堂中聖彼得的象徵,同時雞也象徵「膽小鬼」或「恐懼」。


藝術家喬布.斯密茨(Job Smeets)說:「該作品旨在玩弄建築和雕塑之間的界限,成為富表現力的藝術品的畫布。它也可以是一件巨大的珠寶,一個胸針。堅固的結構將『擁抱』牢牢地固定在一起。當您從遠處初次注意到其特別的形狀時,會覺得它十分具有衝擊性。它的創建是為了給藝術教堂注入活力,成為一種身份;一個解釋的對象;一個停下來喝咖啡的地方。」

The Details


Studio Job was approached by Foundation KunstKerk around five years ago to work on the ambitious project. After many years of development and creative evolution of the work, the piece finally went into production in their atelier, hand crafted piece by piece from bronze and baked, pigmented glass (atelier images of the production in the pack).


The bronze frame, based on the outline of the church’s front facade, is sculpted using classic Studio Job elements of bolts and unique hand-made textural skin, each centimetre has been painstakingly crafted by hand taking over a month to create just the surface texture of the frame. Creating an outline and a construction both at the same time, the studio built the work like a puzzle "a very rudimentary way of building, it also refers to rivets and iron casted architecture." explains Smeets. 


The glass panels were created using the latest production techniques with a partner the studio has worked with for over fifteen years in order to achieve the most precise colour and details baked into the glass. The windows unconventionally face outwards so passers-by can see them, unlike the traditional church style where only the occupants inside could experience the images. The two outer windows lean into the centre, it can be interpreted as a family, shelter, or simply just an embrace. The artwork contains classical figures based loosely on traditional ideas of figures within stained glass windows, within the work they have a ritual together and a balance. The central image is based on his own son, where the right-hand panel features two figures one up one down like a playing card, referencing the gamble of life.


"The windows are based on late medieval iconography, full of so-called references and all those references could mean something, but maybe they don't mean anything to you, it's subjective to see any meaning you want." explains Smeets.


Surrounding each figure, the medieval iconography is translated into a wild contemporary landscape typical of Job Smeets’s style; rockets explode, roses climb, cogs turn, icons that represent themes of life pepper the work. Notably, symbols of creation and of healing, sacrifice, family, fun, frivolity, some serious and some humorous. The idea is to see more the longer you look.

At the top and bottom of the work are five gigantic hand-sculptured bronze animals, four tortoises and a cockerel. A classical element within architecture, the animals form not only the structural parts of the work but their use is rooted in history. According to ancient Asian customs a tortoise placed at the backdoor gives protection and wisdom, here the four bronze tortoises hold up the entire work at the ‘back door’ of the KunstKerk with the structure entirely resting on their shell. 


At the very top of the structure a two-metre-high cockerel appears to be screaming across the rooftops on top of a two-dimensional cupola. In fact, the animal is both a cockerel and chicken, the cockerel a classical weathervane component and an early church symbol of Saint Peter, or the chicken being the idea that the sculpture is ‘chicken’ or scared. "Is it a cockerel or is he simply chicken?" asks Smeets, "the style has a reference to the mechanical startled cockerel in Fellini’s Casanova (1976) and those beautiful golden birds you’d find on top of a Swiss mechanical bird box".


"In our atelier, the complicated parts were the screaming cockerel, at two meters high and 300kg of bronze sitting on the top point of the structure, it needs to be extremely sturdy. The outline structure resembles ‘steel girders’, we’ve never made such a complex from, the whole construction is made out of metal cladded with bronze panels so it was a giant puzzle we created by hand in our atelier that then came together there at the location" explains Wesley Didden, Chief D’atelier of Studio Job. 

Lugten Malschaert Architecten+ Studio Job|盧騰.馬爾沙爾特建築師事務所+ 喬布工作室