Smits van Burgst captures the inanity of his subjects and the perspective effects of amateur digital photography on canvas with great virtuosity.

MAMA is giving Niels Smits van Burgst (1970) his first one-man show. Eleven years after he participated in a group exhibition in MAMA (Try Out 2), Smits van Burgst returns with My First Solo. In the past year the Rotterdam-based artist has produced more than fifty (50!) oil paintings.

My First Solo shows a large number of paintings with the most recent work by Smits van Burgst as a shining centrepiece. But that’s not all. MAMA and Niels Smits van Burgst are giving you the opportunity to be immortalized on canvas. Under the motto Paint My Picture! MAMA invites everyone to submit his or her holiday snaps.* Smits van Burgst will create a new piece from one of these snapshots. This painting will be unveiled during a spectacular closing party on the opening day of the festival De Wereld van Witte de With on 12 September.


The subjects painted by Niels Smits van Burgst range from horse riding treks to meetings. These paintings are based on amateur photos that he finds on the Internet. The photos are conspicuous in that they often lack the correct ‘momentum’; the artist deliberately seeks the image in which not everything looks perfect. Traditionally, oil paintings were made to commemorate important events or people. Smits van Burgst, on the other hand, emphasizes all of life’s trivial incidents and moments.

The self-portraits displayed in the showroom are also based on snapshots of Smits van Burgst, taken by others. We see the artist while he’s watching TV, working at the computer, or sitting in his bathrobe in an office chair with knees raised. The artificial light from desk lamps and computer screens illuminates elements in the surroundings that don’t necessarily deserve a prominent place on the canvas.


Smits van Burgst captures the inanity of his subjects and the perspective effects of amateur digital photography on canvas with great virtuosity. Unflattering flashlight and red eyes are never disguised in this. Despite the influence of his examples Frans Hals and Adriaen Brouwer, in recent years he has developed a compelling personal style. Smits van Burgst has mastered the medium of oil paints to perfection.

Whether amateur photos from the Internet or snapshots of himself, Smits van Burgst always employs the same methodology; he projects the photo onto the canvas and fills in the colours: “After that, the real painting begins.”

Curated by Nous Faes with the contribution of Niels Smits van Burgst.

About HOME

HOME is the leitmotiv by which we encourage conversation about conceptions regarding belonging, representation and identification. HOME is a fundament, the place you return to and anchorpoint for the journey onward. HOME (offline as well as online) is the start of feeling connect to others. Under the name HOME we also present exhibitions in the showroom of MAMA. In collaboration with young makers we express interpretations about HOME | IN REAL LIFE | NETWORKS.


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