Best of Graduates 2023

Galerie Ron Mandos proudly presents Best of Graduates 2023, the sixteenth edition of the annual summer exhibition. Best of Graduates brings together the work of the most promising young artists based in the Netherlands. Curator Radek Vana, Ron Mandos, and Lars Been of the gallery visited the Dutch art academies to scout the best bachelor’s graduation projects

Robin van Leijsen | Willem de Kooning Academie, Rotterdam


Robin van Leijsen (2001) is a maker, born and raised in the Dutch countryside, creating works inspired by the details they see in daily life. These details get processed into works made from wood, fabric, ceramics, paintings, collages, drawings and video edits, the more materials and techniques the better. Van Leijsen always tries to be playful when working, this translates to what the spectator sees in the finished work. The work is realistic, people can recognize what it is, but have a touch of weirdness and surrealism in it. This distortion of everyday life, together with the down-to-earth attitude they got from growing up in the countryside, combines in a visually attractive and playful work, with a body of ‘recognizable’ everyday happening & feelings.

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Julia Leijten | St. Joost School of Art & Design, Breda


Julia Leijten (2000) is a multidisciplinary artist mainly focusing on video work, performance and installation. She grew up in Waalwijk and is currently living and working in Rotterdam. Leijten recently graduated from Art & Research at St. Joost Breda. Her projects start with an interest in certain worlds, so-called subcultures, side branches of society, with its own norms and values. An environment in which she doesn’t necessarily feel at home, but which she is fascinated by and which she dives into by doing ‘field research’. Not as the artist who visits just as curious, but as an equal.

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Matias Salgado | Minerva Academie, Groningen


Born in Buenos Aires in 1998, Matias Salgado started painting in his teenage years by attending courses and seminars with an emphasis on the construction of the human figure. In 2017 he started presenting his work in fairs and exhibitions, working along with collectors around the world. In 2023 Matias received his BA in Fine Arts from Academie Minerva in Groningen. Since then, his work features in private collections in countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Malaysia, Thailand and the Netherlands.

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Mingrui Jiang | Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam

Mingrui Jiang (1998) is an artist born in China. About her work she states: “
Channeling love, fear, instinct, desire and excitement to create an absurd world. I use myself as an element, a movement, a fact to show and to experiment with different realities. I want to create a joyful chaos, an uncanny home, a positive tragedy, a serious joke.”

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Linus van der Maas | HKU, Utrecht


Linus van der Maas (2002) is a digital artist who creates works that explore the ambiguity of ‘queer art.’ Van der Maas’ work is a reflection of his experiences as a queer person, as well as an exploration of the broader cultural and social implications of queerness in society.

By printing digitally made works, the artist creates large-scale works that demand attention and challenge the viewer to explore the broadness of Queer art. His use of color and texture creates a dynamic and immersive experience that draws the viewer into his world of queerness.

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Angelus Schabl | KABK, The Hague


Angelus Schnabl (1997) is a visual artist born in Vienna Austria. He is currently based in The Hague where he graduated from the Photography department at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague (KABK) in 2023. On both ends, as a photographer and sculptor, Schnabl investigates recognisable objects and found materials. He takes a closer look at their functionality and tends to rethink their actual purpose through an abstraction of their materiality and form.

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Gijs van Poecke | HKU, Utrecht


Gijs van Poecke sees the artist as a shaman. The artist taps into the subconscious to imagine and create things that don’t exist yet. By making thoughts physical, they start to exist, which might impact the subconscious of others. A shaman is in good contact with the subconscious. In this way, van Poecke connects the shaman and the artist.

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Mick Santman | Willem de Kooning Academie, Rotterdam


Mick Santman (1999) is a photographer who has emerged from a rich artistic heritage. With a photographer mother and a painter father, he was immersed in the world of visual arts from an early age, fostering a deep appreciation for the power of creative expression. Santman’s journey as a photographer began in 2017 when he enrolled in the Willem de Kooning Academy to study photography. During his time at the academy, he delved into the technical aspects of the craft while also exploring the deeper layers of storytelling and conceptualisation.

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Iulia Bucureşteanu | KABK, The Hague

The artistic practice of Iulia Bucuresteanu (2001) consists of sculpture, photography, and printmaking, and the subjects she approaches center around the home and the household. She grew up in a culture where traditional gender roles are pursued. The way she experienced growing up and her migration from Romania have contributed to Bucuresteanu’s ambivalent relationship with home and family. Therefore, she explores the domestic realm by looking at the objects within which she describes one’s identity.

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Emma Sebregts | KABK, The Hague


Emma Sebregts (2001) is an artist currently based in the Hague. This year, she completed the Bachelor degree Fine Arts at the KABK specializing in the direction of sculpture. Emma Sebregts has exhibited her work at a series of venues already including Billytown, Verheeskade, Bibliotheek Haagse Hout and Nest Gallery

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Sigurður Sævar Magnúsarson | KABK, The Hague


Sigurður Sævar Magnúsarson (1997) was born in Reykjavík, Iceland. In 2011 Sigurður had his first solo exhibition in Reykjavík at the age of thirteen where he showed paintings. This was followed by more exhibitions in several well-known buildings in Reykjavík, such as a solo exhibition in Harpa opera house (2017). In the corridors of Kringlan, Reykjavík’s largest shopping mall (2017) and in the Pearl in Öskjuhlíð (2016) along with other smaller exhibitions.

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Erika Peucelle | KABK. The Hague


Erika Peucelle (2000) has been deeply interested in art making since a young age. “For me, this is kind of a solitary activity, so drawing and painting projects I would do on my own, in my room. When I moved to Berlin at fourteen, I became a foreigner, and of course incredibly inspired by how different it was from where I came from, so I continued in my painting. Around 2018 I had the courage and curiosity to start making portraits on the street at Hackescher Markt or flea markets like Mauer park and Park Sanssouci. Following this time, I moved to den Haag in the Netherlands in 2019 and started my studies in Fine arts.”

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Sanne Hofker | AKI Artez, Enschede


Sanne Hofker (2001) is a photographer that is drawn to the power of imagery. She seeks to create visually striking images that are both stylised and spontaneous, drawing inspiration from a range of sources. From experimenting with the latest technologies and creative innovations to the timeless techniques and masterful compositions of old photography masters and the always-changing world around us

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Timothy Lewis | Academie Minverva, Groningen


Timothy Lewis (2000) was born in France to a French mother and Australian father. He Grew up in Yemen and Eritrea, then from 2006 in the United Arab Emirates. At the age of 18 he moved to the Netherlands to pursue a physics degree in university, after quickly dropping out he rediscovered painting and applied to the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen. Over the last four years he has explored the intersections of fine art, contemporary painting, tattooing, and occasionally sculptures.

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Vincent Zanni | Willem de Kooning Academie, Rotterdam


Vincent Zanni (1995) is a visual artist specialized in alternative photography. With his latest projects, Zanni aims to delve into the intricate nature of analog photography by immersing himself in the darkroom, constantly experimenting with various techniques and materials. Beyond the images captured, he finds equal importance in exploring the materiality and transience of the photograph as a physical object. By embracing the unique physical characteristics and acknowledging its impermanence over time, Zanni’s work seeks to provoke contemplation on the ever-evolving nature of photography itself.

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Tommie Bangma | KABK, The Hague


Tommie Bangma (1998) is an artist that uses the methodology of layering visual, textual and symbolic storytelling to respect the black voice and their interlaced histories. She believes this to be a productive tension and inevitable in narrating her ancestral history. Ignited by her thesis, The Heart of Legends: Why African Caribbean storytelling matters!, and her prose publication Daughter of a distant shore Bangma peels back the layers of her mixed Caribbean heritage to her Ghanaian core in graduation project Kukuya.

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Kaja Majoor | Willem de Kooning Academie, Rotterdam


Kaja Majoor (Arnhem, 1998) is a Polish-Dutch artist based in The Hague. She graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2023, specialising in illustration. Alongside her work as an illustrator, Kaja is a professional violinist, having graduated from the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague in 2020.  This year she has started the NAIP Master (New Audiences and Innovative Practice), to combine her musical and artistic skills. Kaja’s passion for art and music stems from her family background, with her mother as a composer and her father as a type designer. Inspired by her family’s artistic influences, she decided to pursue both disciplines.

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Sofiia Dubyna | AKI Artez, Enschede


“Never betray your indifference”, Sofiia Dubyna (2000) always thought. “Although, an absurd childish naivete, which did not portend trouble, was visible in my works, smoothly filling all the space with it. This feeling of aimless freedom was uplifting. I would like to avoid excuses, but exhaustive circumstances did not even allow me to change my mind from wasted time. Here they are, destroying the consequences of world events that accidentally affected the calm, unpredictable life of an idler, his painting, and its perception.”

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Sam Werkhoven | HKU, Utrecht


The work of Sam Werkhoven (1997) derives from his fascination for light. In his work, he responds to his predecessors, who intrigue him. The work of another often provides an occasion for the creation of work. Yet, the other painter, or the work of the other painter is not the main focus. Rather, Werkhoven creates a dialogue between past and present, using subtle references to art history.

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Caja Boogers | HKU, Utrecht


Within his work, Caja Boogers (2001) tries to find ways to influence the perception of the viewer. By working with techniques that involve manipulations of the underlying layer, it’s the motifs and scratches he applies that often become visible through the painted image. In this way, the texture of the subject is intensified, which creates a shift from the surface of the painting itself, to the surface of the subject matter. It’s particularly this conversion that intrigues Boogers.

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Judith Knol | Academie Minerva, Groningen


Judith Knol (2001) was born in Delfzijl, a small town in Groningen. From a young age she loved painting and drawing, and continued doing it until she was able to attend art school. This year she graduated from Academie Minerva in Groningen. During her final year at Minerva she was part of ‘Eviction Notice,’ an exhibition organized by the students. After that she participated in the Graduation Show held in De Toekomst in Scheemda, where her work was nominated for the Minerva Award for Fine Art.

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Fanja Bouts | Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam


Fanja Bouts (1997) is a visual artist working with installation and illustration. Her work surrounds the contrast between the playful and the absurdly serious, within the patterns of our existence. Through returning characters she creates chaotic scenes of non-linear narratives that fit into each other like puzzle pieces in a newly formed universe. This naturally morphs together into large scale, detailed works, with satirical and philosophical undertones.

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Andrei Nițu | KABK, The Hague


Andrei Nițu (2000) is an artist specialized in painting. His work serves as an external agent, capable of validating his own identity and functioning as a potent tool for propagating his personal ideology. Nițu fabricates his paintings with a manipulative attitude, which he believes is historically characteristic of this medium, with the scope of momentarily controlling the viewer’s emotional state.

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Mellika Ghirah | Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam


Mellika Ghirah (1993) is a visual artist who recently completed her studies at the ceramics department of the renowned Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Ghirah spent her formative years studying in Rotterdam before establishing her artistic presence in Amsterdam. With a previous background in Art & Design, her artistic journey has been marked by a deep affinity for photography and film. This summer, she graduated from the Rietveld Academy, showcasing her diverse interest in multiple mediums, including video, photography, and a installation with a fusion of ceramics and wood.

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Jemima de Jonge | KABK, The Hague


Jemima de Jonge, born in Rotterdam in 2001 defines herself as an artist often working with film in combination with physical sculptures and installations. Incorporating drawing/painting and performance. She recently graduated with distinction from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague in 2023.

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