Ina van Zyl

Born 1971, Ceres, South Africa
Lives and works in Amsterdam


1996-1998 De Ateliers, Amsterdam
1990-1994 University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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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 and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.


Awards & Residencies

2024 Moly-Sabata Residency
 Thérèse Schwartze Prijs
Wim Izaksprijs
2009 Jeanne Oosting Prijs
2007 Jordaan – Van Heek Prijs
2000 Koninklijke Subsidie voor Vrije Schilderkunst & Publieksprijs
1998 Buning Brongers Prijs
1995 Thami Mnyele Residency


Related work expercience

2024 Guest artist at HKU external day fourth year students, Utrecht 
Participating artist at Saw this, made this –Portrait Event, Soho House Amsterdam
Guest advisor Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen
2022 Guest advisor Rijksacademie, Amsterdam
Masterclass painting, Scholen in de kunst, Amersfoort
Curator Arnulf Rainer buigt kleur at Galerie Onrust Amsterdam (cat. with texts by Rudi Fuchs and Ina van Zyl)
2013-2015 Jury member Jeanne Oosting Prijs, Amsterdam
2015 Virtual exhibition for Mister Motley Salon
2015 “Master” in Apprentice/Master project edition 2014-2015 organized by Kunstpodium T, Tilburg
2014-2015 Guest tutor at Royal Academy of Art The Hague
2014 Jury member AVROTROS’ painting competition ‘Het Stilleven’, Amsterdam
2012-2013 Tutor at Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
2011-2012 Member advisory committee at Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdam
2011 Guest tutor at De Ateliers and lecture on own work, Amsterdam
2007 Guest tutor at Dutch Art Institute and lecture on own work, Enschede
Guest tutor at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht and lecture on own work, Utrecht
2003 Guest tutor at Dutch Art Institute, Enschede
2002 Provided artwork for the winner of the VNO-NCW Diversity Award, Utrecht