Jess de Zilva

fine artist

London-based artist working in London and abroad.


My practice has two strands. One concentrates on traditional portraiture where I work from life and by which means I further my practice and skills and develop realism in my work. I follow the portrait tradition and the methods of Masters such as Sargent and Reynolds with much of their practice going back to Van Dyke and Velázquez.

This working method feeds directly into my other work where I use practical and aesthetic elements of the former as well the portraiture. These are the works further described here.

I work from life whenever a project allows but mostly, for practical reasons, with these more complex works I start with models that enact my vision within a specifically chosen setting. I then proceed with the photographic source material created. In the process of painting I emulate the way I work when painting from life. I am very much still in the process of developing this combination of working with photographic material and working from life. The figurative paintings are painted with a similar limited palette as used by the Old Masters, using colours from outside that palette only very selectively. My aim is to create works that have the qualities of the Old Masters and recognize the tradition of portrait painting yet feel contemporary and deal with the issues of today.

My inspiration comes from the people I meet in everyday life. The paintings tell their stories, pick up on subtle moods and focus on the delicate relationships and emotional life of today’s living. I have always been interested in the psychology that underpins our every action and thought and my work is an exploration of these ideas. I question the degree to which context (relationships, traditions, experiences) influences us. Through my work I intend to hold up a mirror to our alienation and question authenticity. 

Whilst the paintings are ultimately portraits and I aim to be as true in my portrayal of the people and their stories as I can, the paintings are not created with portraiture as the end goal. The people portrayed are the means by which I wish to communicate allegories. Specific poses, expressions, settings and compositions are combined to express these. The protagonists in the paintings are to be understood as ‘placeholders’ for anyone of us.

As psychology plays an integral part in my work protagonists can sometimes be found in surreal contexts whilst still being painted in a realist manner.


2015/ 16      Sarum Studio, Atelier of Fine Art specializing in portraiture. Traditional figure drawing & painting under the tutelage of Nicholas Beer. (A big thank you to the Kulturstiftung Liechtenstein, which has kindly

supported me in this endeavor)

2001-2004   BA (Hons) Fine Art/ Painting. University of the Arts London (Camberwell College of Arts)

2000            Foundation Art Studies, Schule für Gestaltung St.Gallen, Switzerland.

City & Guilds Certificate in Delivering Learning (teacher training for adult education)

ABC Certificate Level 3 Decorative Paint Effects

City & Guilds Level 2: Certificate in Decorative Paint Effects

City & Guilds Level 2:Certificate in Design for Craft

Scuola di scultura di Peccia, Ticino, Switzerland: stone carving

Other courses visited: airbrush, life drawing, lardstone workshop, wood-carving.


  1. Michael Benvenuti: «Jess de Zilva , ihr Leben ihre Werke», golf, Edition 7, Cover image &

page 68.Zeit Verlag Anstalt, 2016   Click on image to the right to view the article

  1. Joël Grandchamp: «Projekt des Austausches, Spannung und Erwartung», KuL Vaduz,

Ausgabe 12/13 (Jan 2014). Page 27.

  1. Joël Grandchamp: «Projekt des Austausches, Spannung und Erwartung», KuL Vaduz,

Ausgabe 12/13 (Jan 2014). Page 27. Click on the image to the right to view the article

  1. Lottie O’Conor, 2013, Friday Five: : 5 Questions for Artist Jess de Zilva, 5th July 2013. Pinchtv.

<>    Click on image (right) to view the article

  1. Köpfli, Janine: Jess de Zilva im Portrait; Manchmal erschrecke ich selbst. KuL,

Vaduz, Ausgabe 03/09 (2009). S.17-19.    Click on image to the right to view the article

  1. Wou: Jess de Zilvas Erstling macht Furore, Liechtensteiner Vaterland,

Vaduz, Ausgabe 18/04 (2009). page 28.    Click on image to the right to view the article

  1. Menschen, Bilder und Geschichten, Mauren von 1800 bis heute. Band II,

  2. S.176-177. Verlag Medienbüro Oehri & Kaiser AG. F. Liechtenstein 2007.


  1. Since 2005 painter & designer (faux painting, mural- and furniture painting, decorative specialist painting)

  2. Course lecturer in the Arts for the Adult Education Liechtenstein Erwachsenenbildung Stein-Egerta Anstalt. (past)

  3. Working as private arts tutor in London.


  1. specialist painting (flesh) of Anthea Hamilton’s 5 meter big buttocks installation Project for

  door for the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain September 2016.

  1. Artwork (33 drawings) and cover for 111er Buach book, published by the society for

  genealogy. published in Liechtenstein. BVD Druck+Verlag AG, November 2015.

  ISBN: 978-3-033-05086-0

  1. Guitar design and execution ‘lets be civilized’ for Marlow Guitars.

  2. Illustrations for the national daily Liechtensteinische Volksblatt

  3. Ceramic painter at Keramik Werkstatt Schaedler, Principality of Liechtenstein (during studies)

  4. Graphics: e.g.program & poster for the Cyprus Jazz Festival, redesign of the CWAK Logo, Billy Cobham concert poster.


2017        The Figure, Peggy Jay Gallery, Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, London.

                WIA women in art, Peggy Jay Gallery, Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, London.

2016        SWA 155th Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, The Mall, London.

                Sarum Studio Open Days, Sarum Studio, Atelier of Fine Art, Wren Hall, 56c the Close, Salisbury, UK

                Faces and Spaces, Peggy Jay Gallery, Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, London.

               Double Feature 7: Paul Braunsteiner und Jess de Zilva, The Room, Vienna, Austria.

2015        FLUX, Royal College of Arts London, Gulbenkian Gallery, London.

                S’Hundertoelferbuach va Mura,  Kulturhaus Roessle, Mauren, Liechtenstein. 

                Sarum Studio Open Studio, Sarum Studio, Wren Hall, 56c the Close, Salisbury, UK

2014        Movement: Artworks Summer Exhibition, The Muse Gallery, 269 Portobello Rd, London.

                Factory Limited 2014, The Muse Gallery, 269 Portobello Rd, London.

                Artsdepot Open 2014, Apthorp gallery, Artsdepot, Finchley, London.

2013        Defragmented, 5th base gallery, Brick Lane, London.

                Scribble to draw, Debut Contemporary, Notting Hill London.

                Debut Contemporary, Notting Hill, London

2011        Half Tone, collaborative artistic production, Truman Brewery, London.

         Half tone on Vimeo:

2010        Three shades of true, collaborative multimedia exhibition, Shoreditch, London.

2009        Summer group exhibition, Galerie Vorstadt6, Feldkirch, Austria.

                Jess de Zilva Zeichnung-Malerei, Solo-opening exhibition, Galerie Vorstadt6, Feldkirch, Austria.
2007        Destinations North, Kensington & Chelsea College, London
2006        Meltdown, Kensington & Chelsea College, London
2004        Degree show, Centenary Gallery, University of the Arts London.
2003        Defrost, Open Studio, Bethnal Green, London.

                x2-a painting show, Centenary Gallery, London.

2001        Views of Kings Cross, The Courtyard Theatre, Kings Cross, London.
2000        Final show, Schule für Gestaltung, St.Gallen, Switzerland.


Studio shot. “Education” work in progress. 2014.