artist of the day #37: Jan Vormann

Did you ever hurt yourself as a child, and your parents tried to make you feel better by giving you a toy? I think that is sort of what Jan Vormann is doing, except the bruised knee belongs to his surrounding world. Although his medium of choice is quite varied, I came to know him through his use of toys to fix the wear and tear of the world around him. Perhaps the thing he has gotten to be known for most is his use of Legos to replace missing bricks and repair damaged walls. Jan will simply walk around any given street with a bag of Legos and some strong adhesive to fill in a gap he feels needs some color. In more than one place he was asked to do a permanent installation by city officials. He encourages public interaction and loves it when people just spontaneously help him out.

He has also taken this same approach of repair to some found objects. He has taken several damaged trophies and sculptures and repaired them with parts from found toys. This takes something that would have been otherwise discarded and then redefines it through rebirth.

If I were to sum up his approach, I would say more than anything he is simply trying to remind us of the wonder inside a child’s mind. He wants to remind us of the magic that a toy can bring into our mind. He is serious about trying to be funny.

Vormann also does some other series of works, but it was his interaction of toys that introduced me to him. He has created a series of kinetic sculptures that also tend to have a sense of humor to them, although an often darker one. He created a small collection of animal cages that also double as suicide machines in case the animal rather die than be held captive. (Check the video links) Other kinetic sculptures offer a different kind of sand hour-glass. In some works the choice of media is the central theme, in others it is completely irrelevant. Even though I came to know his kind of as the “Lego Guy” I hope that is not the reputation he continues to hold. I think his work only gets more interesting the more you look into it.