Kinke Kooi, Being Around, 14 January – 18 February 2023

You will find multiple treasures getting lost in Kinke Kooi’s drawings. One of my favorite is an echo to Rihanna’s lyrics in FourFiveSeconds : “all of my kindness is taken for weakness” (see Soft Approach, 2022). Another one reads “all the good comes from below”. This one you can actually find twice in the exhibition, in the work that gave its title to this exhibition (Being Around, 2022) as well as in In Touch, 2013. Nearly a decade separates the two works but that this sentence can be found in both suggest proximity and continuity (and it’s true I always thought of Kinke Kooi’s time as somehow out of this world).
Funny enough the works’ titles suggest an idea of contact while implying distance: to be around and in touch presupposes a separation. I guess this is one of Kinke Kooi’s many obsessions, the closeness / distance conundrum.
That might be why I feel so drawn (pun intended) to the edges and outsides of Kinke Kooi’s works, as much as to their (literal) insides. I love that they are not framed, that their eroticism doesn’t shy away behind glass. I love how colour seems to overflow the paper. I also love how she plays with the composition of the diptych (Soft Approach, 2022): as if the subject – the flowers – outgrew the boundaries of the initial drawing surface. And I absolutely marvel at Why do Men have Nipples (2022) which has a drive of its own. It attempts to fly away from the gallery wall and to fly away from itself: the buttons indicate that the work could close on itself, and refuse being seen (another #freethenipple twist).
Well, I think this is the first time I dare using (multiple times!) “love” in a text about an artist’s work. I don’t think this is a lack of vocabulary. I could have done without. But how can you avoid the expression of gut feelings when the works on display are themselves depicting the folds and worlds of the insides. As Kinke Kooi wants us to feel – more than learn –: “all the good comes from below”. Below referring to what’s underneath, the underground, but also the inferior, the unworthy. Hence the flowers, the seashells, the pearls and the guts, all recurring motifs in the artist’s work.
I also cannot help but to wonder about what’s below the paper Kinke Kooi uses. Works like Under The Surface (2022) propose five different openings. But more generally the interplay between flatness and dimension is quite intricate: it often feels like the surface of the paper works either like the panel of an aquarium or a scanner glass, upon which various components have been carefully arranged and stuck to. This is even palpable with works like Welcome (2021) and Growing the Seeds of Love (2021), where the drawings are complemented with components which, to various degrees, share transparency qualities: crystal glass, plastic forks and spoons and glass and plastic beads. But here again, despite being “on top”, they are perceived as emerging from below.

Cédric Fauq