David Blake, poet (1996)

Four years ago, when I was asked to define my feelings about theresa rijssenbeek’s artistic achievement I was immediately struck by the interplay of poetry and rhythm; sensuality and lyricism. The synopsis suggested that a tension was afoot, unresolved as yet, but brooding behind the elements of darkness and light and the juxtaposition of colour and form.


Nonetheless, an endless and changing array of poetry and light prevail. The new canvases; far from the casual and transitory implications of the subjects, have always a gripping lyricism. A precisely delineated flattened form and softly hewn colour are becoming an integral part of her method. It seems that as her ideas clarify in these related works, the need to compress space is a clear force, in a way akin to the modern concept of flat space, evoked in an early Matisse or the 1922-1926 still-life period of Picasso.

Whether or not her paintings have symbolic meanings is open to conjecture, but certainly the latest paintings especially ‘on lines’ and ‘connected worlds, loose ends’ suggest a strange, nether region of the subterranean fantasy. The mood is the emanation of a sensitive state of mind; inquiring yet restless, and in ‘natural lines, natural flows’, the four sketch like figures might be suggesting transcendent spirituality. Beside her depth of colour, the light and singing hues of her palette seem like a soprano part. It is striking that the writer has noticed the importance of both structural form and mood, the continuance of lyrical colour and the coexistence of feelings of reserve and contemplation, and thus has perceived salient features of a mature style in these latest paintings.

Maybe the formal and highly rational order of her Mexico inspired paintings is being replaced by the fantastic, the accidental, the illogical. Perhaps the unconscious is the essential source of her art, the inner universe of the imagination, rather than the external world – become the wellspring of all inspiration. In the light of John Graham’s, ‘System and Dialectics of Art’, I quote, “The purpose of art in particular is to re-establish a lost contact with the unconscious, with the primordial racial past and to keep and develop this contact in order to bring to the conscious mind the throbbing events of the unconscious mind.”

Paintings like ‘dreams to remember’, ‘intersection’ and ‘white fever’ are stratified in composition, sometimes divided into sharply differentiated registers. Images are disposed in an orderly, geometric manner and at times are segregated into zones. However, in ‘focus facility, lost focus’, which I consider her strongest painting, the colour zones seem to be less systematically compartmentalized, and by painting a rather free-form grid across the surface, seemingly at random, she isolates the images thus enhancing its emotive powers.

Theresa rijssenbeek purifies her art by rejecting the decorative qualities of paint, by ridding her canvases of complex relationships of colour, form and structure. She reduces colour to its essence and makes it become volume, form, space and light. Having emptied her paintings of the superfluous, she is able to express both the material reality of abstract painting and the incorporeal reality of the sublime. This process of simplification which I have noticed in the last four years heralds an act of revelation, even of exaltation, an embodiment of the artist’s personal truth and conviction.

Philosophically it seems as if theresa rijssenbeek is limiting her forms and restricting her number of colours; perhaps her intention is to enhance rather than reduce the expressive possibilities of her painting. To suggest multiple levels of meaning she is stripping away extraneous detail. Once this purification has occurred and imagery has been renovated, the viewer is permitted new kinds of associations, in Apollonaire’s words, “numerous interpretations that sometimes contradict each other”.

David Blake, The Hague, The Netherlands 1996


With her latest large oil paintings on canvas "STRUCTURES", the artist investigates the structure, repetition and rhythm observed in nature. The colours have consciously been kept restrained.

She works on beautiful heavy weight sheets of paper, the pen drawings centred, depicting what fascinates her. The delicate drawings require scrupulous concentration. 

Oil on paper: often as a preparatory study for the large canvases completed in her Dordogne studio, France.



tile recent 1

During the last three years theresa rijssenbeek has worked on her series titled STRUCTURES. Oil on canvas, measuring 150/170 by 120 cm. The works are numbered by roman numerals in chronological order.


paperwork Theresa Rijssenbeek


oil Theresa Rijssenbeek


theresa shotBorn in the Netherlands, 1951, theresa rijssenbeek spends a large part of her youth near the North Sea coast. Dunes, woods and the sea are the setting of her early life. She draws what she admires. When she lives for three years on the tropical island of Curacao (late 70’s) she is overwhelmed by the colours and nature. She starts painting using oil and water paint. Her first exhibition is a great success. Back in the Netherlands she studies at the prominent Royal Academy in The Hague and becomes lifelong friends with head of department Rien Bout who also coaches her. Her professional career as a painter begins in 1990, with yearly exhibitions. The city of Delft commissions a 10 metre high mural painting in a housing project. Not much later, theresa’s work is also seen on Dutch television.
She becomes fascinated by portrait painting leading to many commissions. In 1998 theresa rijssenbeek moves to central France and continues painting. Since 2009 she lives and works in Switzerland. She also spends part of the year in the Dordogne in the southwest of France, working in a new, large, airy and light studio. Here her latest large size oil paintings series (‘Structures’) is conceived.

Article in La Stampa (Italian newspaper, published June 2nd 2018)

Article in Il Biellese (Italian newspaper, published June 8th 2018)

Steven ten Thije, 13 August 2018

Looking and seeing – thoughts on the work of Theresa Rijssenbeek

Why paint? In all its simplicity, still a difficult question. In an age when images appear in thousandfold at the simple touch of a smart screen, why toil with a brush, pencil or pen? For the painter, however, it is not a question at all. They know why. The answer comes to them over and over again, every time the brush touches the canvas and the miracle of creating an image is repeated. But the non-painter keeps on searching. Perhaps you feel the simple autonomy of the painting, yet still you look for language to make that autonomy comprehensible. As if fascination with the painting itself is not enough. It has been my task for years to find those words, in this case language to encapsulate the work of Theresa Rijssenbeek.

Hans Paalman, curator

Museum of Modern Art (Stedelijk Museum) Schiedam, the Netherlands.

On one hand interpreting reality, on the other hand leaving out elements, focussing on the painting’s very essence; in my opinion this is the pictorial power of her work.

Amongst the various trends in Dutch and international arts theresa rijssenbeek occupies a special place with work that can only touch us.

Hans Paalman 1996

David Blake, poet on theresa rijssenbeek, painter

Asked to write an article about theresa rijssenbeek’s paintings I agreed, albeit not without trepidation, for I am no art historian, but a poet. The art historian in his analysis of works of art has at his disposal an arsenal of terminology and jargon, which often results in a baffling pot-pourri for the layman.

David Blake, poet (1996)

Four years ago, when I was asked to define my feelings about theresa rijssenbeek’s artistic achievement I was immediately struck by the interplay of poetry and rhythm; sensuality and lyricism. The synopsis suggested that a tension was afoot, unresolved as yet, but brooding behind the elements of darkness and light and the juxtaposition of colour and form.





‘I approach portraits in the traditional way, layer upon layer and realistically painted. It takes time, I need to feel a connection with the model. I listen, observe and paint. As a result, the portrait is very authentic.’

Theresa rijssenbeek takes commissions for painted portraits. The model needs to be available to pose for seven one-hour sessions. In this way the portrait takes shape and the model will recognise him or herself, in appearance and character.

For more information please contact theresa.rijssenbeek@gmail.com


The Netherlands 
1990 Gallery Biervliet, Amsterdam
1991 Gallery Kadans, The Hague
1992 Doddendael Manor, Ewijk
1993 Schoonhoven in ‘t Veld, Amsterdam
  Mural commissioned by the city of Delft
1994 Gallery Kadans, The Hague
  City and Art, The Hague
1995 Brainbox, Schiphol Airport
1996 Gallery Kunst, The Hague
  Selected for Dutch tv broadcast ‘Kunst te Kijk’
1997 W.B.N. Utrecht, Kapel Noordwijk
  Rumke Groep, Den Dolder
1998 Gallery Halfje Bruin, Brummen
  Gallery Segeren, Breda
  Holland Art Fair
1999 Gallery Kadans, The Hague
2000 Gallery L’art retrouvé, The Hague
2002 Gallery L’art retrouvé, The Hague
2003 Grunerie, Oegstgeest
 1980  First exhibition Tempel Gallery, Curacao
2018 Sordevolo / Biella
2010 Ivrea Italia “c/ostruzioni”
2003 Art Fair, Chateauroux.
  Le lavoir, Diou.
2004 Office du Tourisme, Lignières.
  Musée des Cordeliers, Chateauroux.
2005 Art Fair, Saint Florent.
  Chapel St. Solange, Chateauroux.
  MEBAC, Mezières en Brennes.
2006  Town hall, Chateauroux.
  Art fair, Issoudun.
  Atelier, La Châtre.
2007 Hotel de Villaines, La Châtre.
  Château de Villemenard, St Germain du Puy.
  Autumn Fair Issoudun


In France, theresa rijssenbeek creates her oil paintings in her new Dordogne studio overlooking a small valley. Here she also works on portrait-commissions.

In Switzerland, she creates meticulous pen drawings in her studio with cool north light and views of a mountainside. 


Theresa Rijssenbeek

+31 (0)6 29 70 91 41