To fully understand art
To fully experience art we have to share a world with the work in space and time.
There is a background to whatever there is to be seen or experienced. I see background as a construct that envelops a subject. I have discovered that in the background of our existence imagination is alive. And imagination is key matter for me. Imagination is magic. At the core of my work is a desire to immerse myself and the viewer in an imaginary world. I feel a desire to leave the framed image - for the 'image' to engulf the viewer.
The material I create has a supportive function and works as a bridge through which to enter the imaginary experience. The work suggests a world beyond the work. When I transform my body into a performative object, I try to become one with the environment. My aim is to seduce people to join in and become a part of my world. Thus, in performances I have explored the idea of camouflage as a blending in with a surrounding space, or I have tried to become one with an environment that envelops the audience. To create an experience for the spectators is central to what I do.
Surfaces cover (and hide) something and communicate with the space around. They have the capacity to define a space. In my paintings and drawings I find it important to acknowledge the flatness of the surface by treating every part of the surface as equal. The image should project (perform) into the space and thereby create the viewer's experience. In performances, surfaces have become a material to clothe and define my world. With them I have brought to life imaginary characters that I consider as archetypical for me (e.g. The Princess).
Text I write also functions as a material for me. When spoken we hear the voice play with the reality of things - bringing confusion. An endless amount of things to say, brought to life with theatricality.
I see imagination has to be lived as experience. The images that we encounter in the world around us and those that we create ourselves both are part of something broader and wider than they are themselves – they are part of a world, and we, when we encounter them, share a world with them. To fully experience art we have to share a world with the work in space and time.
In my youth I was already passionate about theater and drawing, participating in theater plays and workshops whenever I could. The feeling of creating - bringing into existence something that was not there before - had a special grip on me. I first studied medicine at the University of Amsterdam but soon felt my vocation lay elsewhere.
In 2014 I applied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. There, performance became the central theme around which I would use other media like painting, writing, sound and the creation of costumes and installations. Everything to serve the experience of the viewer sand myself.
In my graduation piece My New Hat, with my body transformed in a performative object, I welcomed the audience in an evocative environment of hanging coloured paper to join into a journey through my poetic imagination.
In my final year I wrote a thesis The Smile of Ornament, in which ornament is seen as an expression of a spirituality that relates to an immersive world. I write how historically humans have always expressed their sense of connection to the world in ornament, and how this changed in modern times and more radically in our contemporary world, and how this may put us in danger.
From 2020 on, my focus has been more on painting. It is an exploration of the imagination, but also of the environment. Nature, being the background par excellence, has become a central theme. Landscapes and skies become like a matrix for the imaginary.
In recent installation works I explored the relationship between the flat surfaces of painting and the three-dimensional space in which they are shown. In Late Summer it is the framing of the image which creates a structure and extends into the space. In Weather Forecast the space becomes a theatre stage with expansive skies, transforming the viewers into performers as they explore the composition.
Currently, I still live and work in Amsterdam.
At the intergalactic ball
Mother Earth likes to wear
Her expensive jewellery.
invitation to download .pdf of my thesis
"At the time of meeting...
in Jesse Asselman’s studio, we stood together, natural light cast on large painted images. Shimmering blocks of colour formed by layers of linseed oil and pigment read as flat forms, ambiguous in suggesting figures as landscapes.
Asselman articulates a duality of writing and painting as a division of time in the studio, but his temporality is disturbed by a devotion to recollected dreams - suspended, ludic time - which direct the content to both. The practice, then, is fascinated with a process of surfacing and immersion; gestures towards a totalising environment.
Drawing on his background in theatre, Asselman crafts scripts which voice an absurd poetics of communing with theatrical, spiritual, and metaphysical objects. They speak as flickering contradictions, speaking to a rejection of accepted frames of looking.
The artist’s body, when present in performances, is camouflaged with material experiments in painting and texture. Modulated with an awareness of the directive gaze of museological practice, Asselman cagily plunges into a desire for escapism from a contemporary condition with wondrous immersion of surface and language."
- Ivan Cheng (2019)
Exhibition and performance history
Oktober. KuBa Residency, Klein Warnow, Germany → Report
Juli - September. Pilotenkueche, Residency, Leipzig, Germany
Deeply Pelusa Life, group exhibition, at Alte Handelsschule
Dreamy Cube Curve, group exhibition, at Pilotenkueche
Performative artist talk, at The Third Room.
May - June. Three performative appearances at Ruigoord, Amsterdam.
March. Little deamons taking possession of De Nieuwe Anita, solo exhibition, De Nieuwe Anita, Amsterdam.
‘Houseplant’ performance, Mediamatic at Dutch Design Week, Natlab, Eindhoven
performance, Queer Landing, Het Hem, Zaandam
D.Y.A.D., duo exhibition, Amsterdam
‘abracadabra’ performance, Trut TeeVee, livestream
Destillaat #21, Artist residency and exhibition, Extrapool, Nijmegen
‘My New Hat’ performance during ‘Willem de Ridder wordt 80’, Willem Twee Toonzaal, Den Bosch
GRA show, Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
Rietveld UNCUT exhibition 'take a walk on the wild side', Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Field Bird, group exhibition, Overschiestraat, Amsterdam
Pooping back and forth, exchange exhibition, Rietveld Pavilion, Amsterdam
Titanic, group exhibition, Overschiestraat, Amsterdam
The apple in the sand, or the sand in the apple, solo performance, Overschiestraat, Amsterdam
The apple in the sand, or the sand in the apple, solo performance, Morgue,
Chelsea College, London
Kipple, group exhibition, Chelsea College, London
STAGED XII, performance, Gym, Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
Piece of night sky, Torpedo theater, Amsterdam
STAGED II, performance, Gym, Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
How was your sleep last night?, performance with Yiyi Chen, Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
2015 - 2019
BA in Art & Design
in the field of Fine Arts.
At the Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam Diploma 2019
2017 - 2018
Fine Arts at Chelsea College, University of the Arts London
2014 - 2015
At Rietveld Academy
2011 - 2014
Bachelor of Science At Faculty of Medicine University of Amsterdam
2010 - 2011
At University of Antwerp
2004 - 2010
At OSG Sevenwolden, Heerenveen