Ina van Zyl
Born 1971, Ceres, South Africa
Lives and works in Amsterdam
Ina van Zyl was born in Ceres, South Africa, where she grew up and matriculated from the Charlie Hofmeyr high school. She studied art at the University of Stellenbosch from 1990 through 1994. During her study she was a regular contributor to Bitterkomix, the infamous Afrikaans comic magazine created by fellow students Joe Dog and Conrad Botes. Combining the studies of Graphic Design and Fine Arts, she graduated with a BA in Fine Arts, majoring in Drawing.
Van Zyl first came to Amsterdam as a guest of the Thami Mnyele Foundation for a four-month residency in 1995. This led to participating in the De Ateliers postgraduate programme from 1996 through 1998 and eventually settling in the Netherlands. Van Zyl continues to live and work in Amsterdam today.
Ina van Zyl’s early comics mark the start of her career; they certainly form the foundation for the painting she does nowadays. The appearance of her work has changed noticeably – from comics to oil painting – but she is still occupied with the same themes: claustrophobia, shame / humiliation, eroticism / sexuality and human contact or rather, the lack of it.
Working in her studio in the centre of Amsterdam, Ina van Zyl currently is primarily occupied with oil painting. In addition to this, her core medium, she also still makes drawings, comics and watercolours and occasionally explores printmaking.
Van Zyl has been awarded several prizes for her painting in the Netherlands and has had many exhibitions in the Netherlands and beyond. Three monographs on Van Zyl’s work have been published. In Fly on the Wall, the second monograph, all of her comics from 1992 until 2000 were published, accompanied by an introductory text by Dominic van den Boogerd.
Van Zyl about her work:
“The things I paint are related visually, through their imagery, but also share associations. They represent something that implies life, or the promise of life. Being perishable, however, they do involve decay and danger as well. They have a limited ‘shelf life’; their beauty and usefulness will not outlast the average life expectancy of a person.
The living and lifeless things that I paint are placed outside of any context; they are shown in isolation and in an objective way, that is to say as objects. The shapes are heavy, clear and recognisable, sometimes geometric. The entire surface of the canvas is saturated, full of paint. Any sense of action is absent, and yet every painting, to me, is an implosion of turbulence – desires and memories, sorrow and drunkenness. Each painted object retreats into itself; each thing has just enough legroom to exist. Only the essentials remain: just enough food and water, a cup to drink from.”
Her work is represented in numerous public and private collections, including that of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.