Merian van Rooijen



Merian van Rooijen (born 1974 in Woerden) is a contemporary artist and designer who lives and works in the Netherlands. She graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy with a degree in sculpture and graphic art in 2006. Her work comprises subtle reliefs in paper, composite, wood and on canvas, and spatial sculptures in composite, wood and steel. These are autonomous limited edition art works and artworks she makes commissioned by organizations and private individuals. She also designed and created many awards, such as the Winq Diversity Awards and the Speelgoed van het Jaar (Toy of the Year) Awards.

In brief

Born in Woerden
Began her studies at the Grafisch Lyceum, Rotterdam, Graphic Design Department
Graduated from Ichthus University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam, Department of Design & Communication
Graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy for Visual Arts & Design, Rotterdam, Autonomous Art Department
Began her career as an independent art professional
Photo: Harald Scheper.

Open character

Those who have seen her work immediately notice its ‘open’, soft character. Organic, predominantly white shapes, appear to flow naturally into each other. This changes under the influence of glancing light. Consequently her pieces change from moment to moment, giving the impression during the day of ‘breathing’. Merian’s art has its origins in the beautiful, natural environment of ‘Het Groene Hart’, an area located within the center of Holland. This is where she grew up, surrounded by stylized grasslands, glittering waterways, whimsical pollard willows and endless, cloudy skies.

Sculptural approach

Merian often combines various disciplines in her work. Her reliefs result from a sculptural approach to the flat surface. She uses different materials to experiment with lines, from soft to hard. This is not only visible in the end result, but also in printing and casting molds that she makes from linoleum, wood, steel and silicone rubber. She has also developed her own unique working method on canvas. Fabric is stretched, stitched and filled until the desired shape appears. Mixed media are used to merge the material into one image.


Merian’s love for relief arose in her first year at the academy, when she painted over in white one of her paintings and the glancing light brought the imperfections on the canvas to life. During the same period, she left an etching plate in acid for too long and subsequently decided to make a print without ink. This led to her fascination with the play of light and shadow: the serenity of the smooth surface with a subtle contrast here and there that radiates tranquility and quiets the image. The images trigger a desire to touch them. Consequently she calls her work ’tangibles’.

Intuition and sensitivity

Merian’s language of form is organic, recognizable and strongly guided by intuition and sensitivity. Her images are figurative but not realistic. They are often silhouettes, shadows or mirror images that are related to reality but with great care reduced to a few flowing lines and volumes. They are reminiscent of the fleeting nature of our perception and memory, of images that we may want to hold on to but that fade, in any case, over time. By capturing the essence in form, Merian creates space for personal interpretation.

Refined versus robust

Lady Justice is at odds with Merian’s refined reliefs, but it is also unmistakably hers. Lady Justice is a robust, larger-than-life sculpture made for a Rotterdam law firm. Use of old dowels from Rotterdam Harbor were a physical and emotional challenge. She was forced to let the original design go, to allow the image to emerge of itself. She later used this ‘letting go’ as a starting point in the design for the wall-filling installation at the entrance to Bresc’s new business premises in Werkendam.

People and environment

Merian abstracts not only human figures but also the human environment, nature and architecture, all in her own unique way. An example is her Skyline Rotterdam, lasered from one piece of stainless steel. The piece mirrors the Maasboulevard in the Kop van Zuid with a deliberate interplay of lines. She is currently working on a series of works about Rotterdam, the city where she studied and lived for several years. A solo exhibition of this will appear at Arte de la ley, a new location for contemporary art in Rotterdam, in the spring of 2024.

Lid van BOK

Merian van Rooijen