Five questions to Chiel van Zelst

Five questions to Chiel van Zelst

Chiel van Zelst leads a nomadic life. He is always on the move and prefers to paint his artworks in guest studios in Amsterdam or elsewhere in the world. In his paintings he transfers life energy to canvas.

How did you get into art?

I was born in 1964 in Amsterdam. I paint from a young age in the alternative punkrock graffiti scene and at a later age I went to art school to make it all legit. I studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and later at the SVA in New York. After my studies I returned to Amsterdam and started painting large city scapes.



How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?

I am not stuck to a subject anymore. I can paint abstract and figurative, from mind, memory or my phone. As long as I am in love with it I can pant it. This can be either a building, a person or myself. The style is always the same. Raw and direct. Basically it’s all about putting life energy on to the canvas.

How do you go about developing your work?

There’s no plan, there is only planning. All must be right to make the painting. Each painting is one time gig. The actual act of panting is the summary of many hours of mental and practical preparation. If people and ask me; ‘How long did it take you to make this painting?,’ I’ll always answer; ‘My whole life’. 

Who or what influences you?

I live the nomadic artist life style. I have no permanent stay or studio. I work in temporary spaces and guest studios in Amsterdam and abroad. Moving around a lot keeps me inspired as an artist.

Make us curious. What is planned next?

Right now I am preparing for a serie of large large canvasses I am going to make and show in a gallery in Curacao.