Niels Smits van Burgst | 2017-03-08 Social Dynamics in a Forest
oil on canvas, 45 x 65 cm

Niels Smits van Burgst was born in the Netherlands in 1970 and graduated at the Royal Academy in the Hague in 1993. Since then his paintings have been exhibited in New York, Berlin, Amterdam, Brussels, and many more cities across Europe. In 2013 Museum ‘de Buitenplaats’ honoured his work with a retrospective. He won the ‘van Ommeren de Voogd’-price-2007 and the Aku-2011.

“The paintings by Niels Smits van Burgst articulate our attempt to connect to oneanother, the frustration and inadequacy of our efforts to engage others which results often in isolated, voluptuous tedium. The figures in his work, acquaintances perhaps, flaunt their sexuality and hedonistic irreverence; the act of painting mirrors their desire and slyly romanticises the tawdry, lived-in reality of the image.

Sometimes the image is benignly erotic, modestly painted in virginal pastel colours; at other times it is pornographic, executed with thick, stigmatising strokes that echo the image’s violence.
Commonplace scenes, a kitchen or a bedroom emerge from a painterly atmosphere, entwined intimately with the flesh of the figures who inhabit these spaces.

In their abiding openness the paintings beg the question of whether intimacy between the viewer and the subject is possible. Displaying themselves in a frozen, isolated moment, the subject projects an identity to be validated by the viewer. The painting is a conflict between this projected identity and the painters own sentiments; is connection possible then, or is every image we create inherently deceiving?

Boredom, pranks and aggressive sexuality all become a show, a heightened reality that lies in contrast to the quiet, imperturbable surroundings that ground these displays firmly in the everyday, simply existing.”


2016 Sebastian Haquin