Laina Terpstra is an abstract, figurative oil painter currently based in San Francisco. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where her focus was Painting, Modern Dance, Philosophy and Theology. Her work is heavily rooted in expressionistic painting traditions, where some of her influences include Max Beckman, Kirchner, Francis Bacon, and Frank Auerbach. Bay Area Figurative artists Diebenkorn, David Park, and Elmer Bishop were also formative influences. Her work is also in dialogue with more contemporary painters such as Howard Hodgkin, Michael Van Often and Lesley Vance, all of whom are interested in investigating the limitations and metaphors specific to the medium of painting.


Laina's background in modern dance informs her work, in her sensitivity to movement and gesture. The tactility of the paint and her acute awareness of touch evoke a kinesthetic empathy on the part of the viewer that draws one into the internal motion of both the evoked space, and the physical, tactile present. While veering towards abstraction, her compositions always retain an internal scaffolding of realistic space and light. Forms are deconstructed and distilled to their purest elements so that what is left is merely the code of an image that your mind is compelled to complete. Her work explores this liminal place where spaces are sensed rather than recognized, and defined through a logic of sensation, movement, and vibration.


Terpstra's practice  focuses on an ongoing investigation of the tension between loose, gestural brush strokes enclosed against the depth and illusion of architectural or dimensional spaces. Masterfully balancing the implementation of perspective against haunting ethereal formations that appear to emerge from the architecture itself, Terpstra’s compositions are compelling visual riddles that pull the viewer in and give the eye and mind multiple points of entry for prolonged contemplation. Terpstra takes inspiration from the old masters, often working in response to specific source material. The reference to Dutch master Pieter de Hooch is particularly conspicuous in these works, marked by Terpstra’s reinvention of the dark enclosed interior with a single light source and patterned floors. Though she references the past, Terpstra’s work has a contemporary beat - her abstracted shapes pulse with a dynamic movement. They flow, bend, shift and sway to meet the moment.



BFA, Painting, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY



2015 Finalist in the Art Olympia International Art Competition



2017 “Laina Terpstra and Tama Hochbaum” by DeWitt Cheng.

2016 “List of Young Painters: 200 artists of unusual promise, b. 1987 or younger”

2013 “Arts in Bushwick, BOS Studio Visit: Laina Terpstra”

2013 Sarah Lawrence Visual Art Review

2013 7x7SF, “Four Exceptional Gallery Exhibitions to Visit”

2012 Sarah Lawrence Visual Art Review


Selected Exhibitions

2023  'Sacred Spaces'  Maybaum Gallery, SF, CA

2020 Paul Bloch & Laina Terpstra, Maybaum Gallery, SF, CA

2019 Gamble + Design. New Paintings. SF, CA

2019 Laina Terpstra and Rachel Dwan. SF, CA

2018 The East Cut Art Fair. SF, CA

2017 George Lawson Gallery. Laina Terpstra: Departures. SF, CA ( 1st Solo with George Lawson: Sept 23rd through Oct 28th)

2015 Younger Than George. George Lawson Gallery. San Francisco, CA

2015 Art Olympia

2015 Finalist Exhibition. Tokyo, Japan

2014 Chromoscope. Holographic Center for the Arts, Queens, NY

2014 99cent Plus Gallery. Brooklyn, NY

2014 Laina Terpstra and Rebecca Manson. 99cent Plus Gallery. Brooklyn, NY

2013 Distraction. Gallery 60SIX, San Francisco, CA 2012 Anexact Geometries. AMO Studios, Brooklyn, NY

2012 Grace + Clark Fyfe Gallery, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Scotland

2011 Tic Tac Toe. AMO Studios, Brooklyn, NY

2010 Barbara Walters Gallery, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY