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 to 1994, and during her studies was a regular contributor to Bitterkomix, the infamous Afrikaans comic magazine created by fellow students Joe Dog and Conrad Botes. She graduated with a BA in Fine Arts, majoring in drawing.

Van Zyl first moved to Amsterdam as a guest of the Thami Mnyele Foundation for a four-month residency in 1995. This led to her participating in the De Ateliers postgraduate programme from 1996 through 1998 and eventually settling in the Netherlands. She continues to live and work in Amsterdam today.

Ina van Zyl’s early comics mark the start of her career; forming 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, she 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.

As she explains of 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 also involve decay and danger. They have a limited shelf life; their beauty and usefulness will not last. The things 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 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.’

Ina van Zyl’s website can be found here.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.


Example illustration