The structure of the material is important. Her works are about forms, usually geometric forms, but sometimes also irregular, more organic forms. Vergouwen plays with opposites such as open versus closed, rough versus smooth, inside versus outside. Geometric abstract art, but intuitive, not calculated. Helen releases emotion by letting you look at a form made from rusty steel. The attraction of her sculptures is reinforced by her masterly command of the materials she uses and the precision of her work.
The simplicity of these monumental works can be misleading. Vergouwen strives to achieve balance between all possible aspects: between closed and open, thick and thin, big and small, horizontal and vertical, round and straight, full and void. Characteristic for her work is the way she draws attention to what is not there. The open space plays as significant a role as the solid masses and there is a dynamic tension between the visible and non-visible forms. Little openings in the works not only reflect the surroundings but also let light in. As some surfaces light up and others remain in the shadows, depending on the position of the sun the structure is continually exposed to different highlights. The way the open and closed forms interact with each other also evokes emotions. Where broad lines converge, a feeling of being overwhelmed or oppressed may be summoned, while the openness in other parts feels liberating. Throughout the work you can sense a real peacefulness; the result of Vergouwen’s constant striving for a perfect balance. COR-TEN steel is Vergouwen’s favourite material. It can withstand the elements, but time continues to etch new structures and lines onto the rough surface. Due to the physical force required to work with it, steel is seen as a typically masculine medium. Vergouwen has always resisted that stigma, however. She sees the smelting, welding and bending as the core of the making process. ‘I’m not making what I know, but what I don’t know. With shapes that are slightly alienating, that are not simple to interpret and therefore also come to me as a surprise.’ – Helen Vergouwen