MARK LIJFTOGT (1963) was born in Amsterdam but at the age of six he moved with his family to a small village a stone’s throw from Amsterdam, where he was to grow up and make his first steps into an artistic career. Indeed, he started drawing at an early age. The budding artist’s early drawings were rather of a cartoon-like nature.
After having graduated from high school, he initially found employment as a dental technician in a dental lab. However, at the age of nineteen he decided to give up this job and moved back to Amsterdam to live on his own and explore different paths in life.
He was introduced by a friend of his to the well-known sculptor and restorer Hans ‘t Mannetje, who ran a restoration studio in an old synagogue across the Rembrandt Huis in the centre of Amsterdam. He came to be employed at this studio and worked there alongside skilled artisans specializing in various crafts, such as woodcarving, sculpture, carpentry, decoration and restoration. It was in this traditional setting, and owing to these artisans who shared lessons from a career spent analyzing the physical aspects of various types of paints and other materials, that he first discovered his love of time-honoured techniques and classical painting.
It was not long before he transformed his home into a studio and paid daily visits to the Rijksmuseum in order to study the Old Masters. The great art from the golden centuries of Dutch painting inspired him to start using oils as a painting medium, and these he has been using ever since. During his visits to the Rijksmuseum he also got to know its Chief Restorer, the late Mr. Kuyper, and his assistant, Martin Bijl. These experts have greatly assisted him in mastering the technicalities of panel and canvas preparation and surface treatment, without which it would not have been possible to achieve the exquisite smoothness and meticulous detail characteristic of his present work. Classical painting thus started to form the point of departure for what over time would develop into his beautifully elaborated canvases and panels.
As yet unknown to a wide audience, he needed to keep making a living for himself in these years of finding his way as a still life painter. As part of this, he also employed himself as an ornamental painter, which involved activities as diverse as decoration (e.g. marbleizing), air brushing and painting restoration. These activities brought him into contact with a manager of a well-established jewellery store located on one of Amsterdam’s main shopping streets. This businessman was highly enthusiastic about his paintings from this time, which led to a jointly organized exhibition in this prestigious store, which proved to be very successful. Further exhibitions were to follow, both in the Netherlands and beyond. His paintings can now be found in collections in many countries, including the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy, Norway, Canada and France.
The 17th century still lifes, which are especially well-known for sparse use of colour and carefully balanced composition, have constituted an important source of inspiration for his present work. However, his still lifes are not as monochrome as those of his 17th century predecessors. They are simple in composition and rather bright in colour, but their most striking feature is a tranquil, intimate luminosity, emanating from them, onto them or simply enveloping them. You can’t tell.
MARK LIJFTOGT has not lived in Amsterdam for a number of years now. He has moved to Overijssel, a province in the eastern Netherlands, where he practises his art far removed from the urban hustle and bustle.