The Shape of Water

skilled craftsmanship

Verhoeven’s Shape of Water collection fuses time-honored symbolism and cutting-edge technology to create a sculpture of startling beauty. The bubble appears throughout art history as an image of transience, most famously in Chardin’s Soap Bubbles (c. 1733-34), which depicts a boy blowing a bubble while another watches. A similarly playful spirit infuses Verhoeven’s Vanitas of Life collection, with its billowing, prismatic glass bubbles that look like they might pop at any moment. The method to make the bubbles emerged only after years of research by the duo. The borosilicate glass is the most stable and clear glass made by man. Master craftsmen, used to work on jewelry precision, work together with robotics to shape the glass to a complex structure that results in an exceptionally strong substance. The Verhoeven Twins have created a unique cultural artefact by transforming a symbol image of brevity into an enduring object.

In addition to its more formal aspects – symbolic nature of the bubble looms large over the Verhoeven Twins’ practice. The twins refer to their working environment as living within a bubble of their own experience — as the two share an estate and a studio. The pair also attempt to capture a youthful like innocence or naivete? through their work; for the artists bubbles come to represent the fragility of life – something of aesthetic beauty but also very temporary. A vanitas is a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death.

The Vanitas of Life works are intended to exist at the intersection of art object and functional sculpture. The twins aim to collapse the abstract into the functional, creating a story that blends elements that society usually separates. The pieces – while whimsical and beautiful also delve deeper to ask existential questions about life, death, and all the possibility bound up within a single moment.