Realism Today Ambassador, artist Gezien van de Riet
Gezien van de Riet, “North Sea Beach in Sunset.” Walking along the seaside is a great privilege and yet without any cost . . . well, when you live there. The waves are whispering. The sun leaves my horizon and shows itself through the most gorgeous colors.

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, artist Gezien van de Riet.

The beauty of nature always mesmerizes me. To capture that beauty requires long and close observation. In that process emerges a personal selection, brought about by artistic feeling. That kind of observation was already the earmark of the realist painters of the Dutch Golden Age. I felt related to them and gave my monograph the title “Gezien van de Riet. ‘In ’t leven vindtment al,’” which means “In life, one finds all.” That saying of those painters became my motto.

One who paints the realistic way is fortunate to discover ever more of a world full of variation.

The painter may want to move objects or dim colors for harmony’s sake and personal feelings, but these changes should never be conspicuous. Ivan Shishkin was a master in natural representation — that’s why he is one of my favorite painters. So are the American sublimes like Frederic Church.

Invented representations about human life fascinate me as well. They convey a different kind of beauty, one that is more linked to human experiences and sensations.

Craftsmanship is essential, but it is the artistic experience that steers the pencil and the brush, that defines color, light, and dark. I paint with oil, often with tempera as an underpainting. I love to draw, with pastel, pencil, or charcoal.

Although I felt attracted to art since my youth and wanted to become a painter, I also had a keen social interest and started out on a professional career as a sociologist (master’s degree in sociology, University of Amsterdam, subsidiary subject, history of art). This brought me to Bolivia for more than ten years. My work with indigenous people allowed me to combine different skills in the development of illustrated education material.

On one of my trips, looking out from a plane window at the harsh but stunning beauty of the Bolivian Andes, I made a vow: I am going to qualify seriously in free pictorial art. I started following evening classes at the La Paz School of Arts, where director Alberto Medina recognized and stimulated my talent. The first exhibitions — and successes — also took place in La Paz. I was frequently featured and interviewed by the national press, radio, and television.

So I came back from Bolivia to Europe as an artist but was confronted there with the still prevailing wintry climate of modernism. This was until I came into contact with Diederik Kraaijpoel, former teacher and painter, one of the founders of the Klassieke Academie, and an important publicist about (post)modernism and realism in art. For several years I got guidance from him.

As an editor, I wrote about realism, in monographs and magazines. I gave lectures and started a blog focusing on art history issues. In 2008 my monograph was published: “Gezien van de Riet. In ’t leven vindtment al.’”

I’ve had participation in many exhibitions of galleries, art fairs (e.g., KunstRAI Amsterdam), and last but not least Museum Møhlmann. This museum organizes yearly the Independent Realists’ Exhibition, an important platform for contemporary realism. My work is included in its collection. I’ve been featured internationally in many books and articles, especially in books published by Museum Møhlmann. Competitions: Twice I became a finalist in the ARC Salon, and twice came through the first selection of Figarativas MEAM. My work is added to several sites as Artelibre under Grandes Autores (Spain), Kunstzaal van Heijningen (Netherlands), Clatia Gallery (China), ARC as Associated Living Master (USA). In 2019 works of mine will be included in the collection of the Fundación Cultural del Banco Central de Bolivia. I’ve also participated in the exhibition “20×20” in MEAM, Barcelona.

Tempera and oil paintings -
Gezien van de Riet, “Tessa,” tempera and oil on linen, 80 x 40 cm.


Just as she stands there, with that smile, struck me. Life, the pleasure of youth, a world that is open to you. I didn’t want the lavender to look like flowery wallpaper continuing into the dress, which I had seen in some paintings. It should look “real,” spatial because this flowering had to unite itself with her. It caused a compositional problem that took quite a few hours, but it was worth the effort.

Watercolor and pastel paintings -
Gezien van de Riet, “Reaching for the Sky,” watercolor and pastel on paper, 60 x 40 cm.

“Reaching for the Sky”

When I saw this tree, I ran to it. Looking up, I was mesmerized. The architecture of the branches! That reaching! Like longing, growing steadily. The light that threw a fine pink and yellowish glow on the twigs in the endless blue. This tree arouses courage to reach for the sky!

Learn more about Gezien van de Riet at

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