Trust in me, just in me
Shut your eyes and trust in me
The words above come from the The Jungle Book song ‘Trust in me’, covered in 1987 by post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees. In contrast to the original Disney version, Siouxsie’s performance is more seductive and dangerous; she whispers to us sensually, casts away our hesitations and tries to hypnotize us. She leads us towards surrender, in order to find rapture in a dreamy state of being. Koes Staassen takes these words as the starting point for his third solo presentation in the gallery. ‘trust in me’ refers to Staassen’s artistic process, the invitation to his friends to participate as models in private sessions that eventually lead to drawing.
The exhibition consists of different approaches to these model sessions and the bodies that figure in them. In the front space of the gallery, the precision of earlier drawings gives way to life-size colored pencil drawings in which stronger gestures are central. By zooming out, Staassen shows more of the setting during the session; in two drawings we see the artist as apparition positioning his models. The surroundings stay ambiguous; by not defining where and when the mysterious scenes take place, the viewer can better inhabit the image and let their imagination run wild.
In the back room of the gallery we find, among other works, a collection of smaller drawings. A number of these drawings were made during the lockdown in March and April.
We see a different approach to the body; Staassen worked during this period of isolation exclusively in response to video material recorded by one of his models. The frustration of only being able to see the body virtually, leads Staassen to transform his model on paper into graceful curls and arches as a way of making the body tangible. On closer inspection, we see how the body dissolves in thoughtful but vicious linework as a loving bondage in which the body as an object is held in place by cords.
For the first time, Staassen is also showing photo prints. These photos, layered with scratches and inks, show a more explicit, more violent side of desire. Here, the body is not made up of soft pencil strokes; it does not appear in harmony with the image but instead must hold its own amidst the brazen additions he places across the surface of the photo.
Trusting in the potency of desire, Staassen tests new boundaries with ‘trust in me’; more striking, urgent and fantastical. Wildly laced, but at the same time unleashed.