Performances, Travels, Biographical (1968-1990)

During her studies at the Rietveld Academie of Arts in Amsterdam, Els gets to know Willem de Ridder, editor of Hitweek/Aloha, and is fascinated by the underground-culture, expressed in the performances of total theater of Paradiso and Fantasio. Until 1975 she participates in the weekly performances and is on tour throughout Holland, France and Spain.

In 1975 she definitively returns to painting and experiments in the technique of the old masters, painting in oil and egg based tempera on panel and copper.

Themes are based on the novels of E.A. Poe and E.P. Lovecraft, mostly mysterious landscapes and desolate buildings.

Her interest in cultures past and ethnographic research, handed down by her father, the painter Jan de Gruijter (1917-1951), plus worldwide travel experiences, become clearly visible in her paintings. Exhibitions take place in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Boston.

Just Heads (1991-1993)

In May of 1993 she exhibits in the gallery JAP in Amsterdam the work of a two year period of painting portraits. Those mask-like portraits are the result of a stay on St. Eustache in the West Indies.

Hermit International Art Symposium (Summer 1993)

On location, at the baroque monastery of Plàzy (CZ), a serie called ‘Flying Men’ is created. Human figures, monumentally oversized, show in a somewhat shortened perspective the baroque influence of the surroundings.

Guardians (1993-1995)

After ‘Flying Men’ she works on paper and a series comes into being, in which abstract human figures are the main topic. Here, aswell the ethnographic influence is noticeable, reminding us of guardians of ancient temples.

Vide Magnifica (1994)

After the successfull completion of the Plàzy symposium, in early spring of 1994 a place to work on location is offered in the gasometer of the former gasworks of Amsterdam. In the cathedrallike atmosphere she works next to Josine Goosens, whom she met in Plàzy, on some extremely large paintings. Together with the more architectural topics of Josine, her gigantic ‘hands’ connect with the atmosphere in this huge factory hall.

Perspex (1994-1997)

‘Perspex” is the first exhibition of small plexiglass objects at the same factory and is followed up by ‘X-Rayed’. Objects of which some are stackable, others to be folded and some with different geometric shapes. These are covered with drawings in india-ink and acryl, evoking a strong three-dimensional effect.

Skeletons (1996)

Concentrating on the pure line, she creates a series of ‘love-making’ skeletons, on linnen, in oil and/or acryl. Again an exhibition takes place at the former gasometer in Amsterdam, again with Josine Goosens.

Plantforms and Figures (1998 – 2004)

In 1997 Els rediscovers Prof. K. Blossfeldt’s book Urformen der Kunst (1940) in her library and together with long hikes through the old woods of Poland and Austria, it wakes her interest in characteristic plantforms. She is intrigued by the basic forms of archaic plants as well as by those in human poses. Series are done on linnen and perspex: from smallest moss to giant shavegrass.


The woods around Schnifis are the main theme.Singular prints on paper or linnen result.
After an exposition in Schnifis (Austria) showing the prints she returns to work in oil, acryl and eggdistemper on linnen to record the Alp’s erosion beyond the timber-line.

Sand is back in use and so is the earlier size of linnen.


The use of color is basic. Nuances are created through layers of different colours of paint one upon another. Acrylic and oil paint consist of a maximum of pigment and a minimum of binder, in some cases mixed with sand. In this way undesired gloss is avoided. Els de Gruijter calls herself a painter. She also could be called a draftswoman on linnen.