Pieke Bergmans (Sprang-Capelle, 1978) carefully dissects the principles and elements of the manufacturing process, manipulating materials exhaustively until she is pleased with the results, which are often startling. Bergmans studied graphic, industrial, and 3D design in the Netherlands and completed a master’s in product design in London. She has been working as an artist and designer since 2004. Thanks to her original applications, and whether with glass, plastic, or ceramic, Bergman’s materials come into their own in a wonderful new way!
The same holds true for neon light, which Bergmans studied in depth for her recent series Phenomeneon. She wondered why fluorescent lights always come in the form of a glass tube, with a fixed diameter and parallel sides. The reason, she learned, is that inert gases, which are all essentially odorless and colorless, only emit light when subjected to a voltage when under compression in a relatively small space. As soon as the gas is able to expand, it emits less light and even seems to vanish. Bergmans played around with this idea and had glassblowers produce organically shaped, variable diameter tubes, which she filled with the noble gas argon. The effect is mysterious: blue neon lines, drawn in space as though by a paint brush, move about freely, light up, or suddenly fade away.
The collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam includes works by other artists who have worked with neon, such as Bruce Nauman and Tracy Emin. Whereas they played with the familiar use of neon in signage, Bergmans has focused on the expressive qualities of the light itself.
Pieke Bergmans is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.