light as a needle


4 September – 3 October 2020
Galerie Onrust Amsterdam

Friday 4 September 12 – 6 pm
Saturday 5 September 12 – 6 pm

Galerie Onrust
Planciusstraat 7
1013 MD Amsterdam
open Friday – Saturday and every day by appointment

download invitation (pdf)

In the work of Ina van Zyl, flowers are often not simply flowers. They have been given titles such as ‘Schoot’ (Lap), ‘Envy’ or ‘Little Orgasm’; aside from being beautiful and seductive, they are also slightly awkward. As though concealing something that is being revealed only by degrees: desire, shame, pride and sensuality. That feeling is certainly true of her new series Lente (Spring), watercolors of various types of flowers that she produced during the lockdown. More than anything the series shows that the power of that particular spring could not be suppressed. The watercolors glow as celebrations of life and now, as an ensemble, hang happily and provocatively on the wall under the poetic yet ambiguous title light as a needle.

Van Zyl calls the flowers by their names: lily, peony, carnation. But their ambiguity is merely heightened by the technique of watercolor. Take the iris, for instance. She paints this in voluptuous blossom, in countless shades of red and yellow, its ‘crêpe-paper’ petals taking on sculptural forms as transparency and weight coincide. The petals hang outward like voracious tongues but, once withered, they shrivel up and droop with an intensity of color. “If I only see flowers as being beautiful, there’s little I can do with them,” Van Zyl has said before about her fascination with flowers. “But when there’s friction, things get interesting. Take the flower buds: they’re lovely, but at the same time I have the urge to pinch them to pieces.”

Vulnerable and powerful, untouchable and yet soft, such contrasts are brought together by Van Zyl to define the image. Lilies still in bud form, the stems making elegant but unexpectedly distinct angles. And carnations petals popping through the bud like a small eruption while the bud remains intact: a sensual image suggesting the fusion of the masculine and feminine.The same holds true for the warm and radiant colors. Van Zyl stirs them up and knows precisely when to rein them in. They flow together, blend and sometimes disperse like oil and vinegar along frayed contours. They are dark and light, harsh and gentle, glistening and dull. They decelerate the eye and force it to concentrate. At such moments paint and flower seem to become one.

text: Esther Darley
translation: Beth O’Brien



Voorjaar 2020 / Spring 2020


“… How will we remember the spring of 2020?
In April this year, Winnie Teschmacher, director of project 
space De Ketelfactory in Schiedam, posed this question to all artists who have worked with De Ketelfactory in the past. …”

The result is an exceptional box of fifty beautiful booklets, designed by Berry van Gerwen.

Available at De Ketelfactory, Hoofdstraat 44, Schiedam or order your box for a mere €25 (plus shipping) at

download press release ENG (pdf)
download persbericht NL (pdf)