8.5 – 1.6 2019
Ruud van Empel:Floresta Negra
08.05 – 01.06.2019
Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London are pleased to announce a third exhibition of works by Dutch artist Ruud van Empel. The exhibition includes 10 new large-scale colour photographs, including works from the artist’s latest series Floresta Negra and Voyage Pittoresque, both shown in the UK for the first time.
Van Empel’s style has evolved through an ongoing exploration of the tension between straight photography and digital technology. His images are digitally constructed from a composite of hundreds of diverse fragments taken from his own photographs. He digitally dissects and reconstructs photographs to create his works, as each leaf, stem, petal or branch are carefully collaged together to produce entirely new worlds.
Throughout his career, Ruud van Empel’s work has embraced a range of art historical references including Dutch Old Masters, German Renaissance painters and early photomontage artists. His working methods blend the techniques of painting, photography and collage; forcing his viewers to not only confront the problematic truth value of photography, but their own conceptions of the constructed and the ‘real’.
His latest works, from the series Floresta Negra and Voyage Pittoresque, present synthesised, hybrid worlds, where looming flowers and oversized leaves become the focus of the compositions. Works on display from the 2018 series Floresta Negra, take as their subject nocturnal forest scenes, eerily backlit by starlight or by glistening bioluminescence. Voyage Pittoresque presents bountiful and lush land or waterscapes that overwhelm with a variety of complex colours and forms. Placing plants together that would not naturally coexist, van Empel also subtly alters the lighting and scale in his images in order to construct a variety of uncanny and impossible worlds.
Following in the romantic tradition, van Empel’s highly-stylised digital collages seek out the sublime, the subjective and stirring experience of the natural world, and therefore engage with a contemporary disenchantment with urban and technological realities.
B. The Netherlands1958
Ruud van Empel’s pioneering techniques have completely changed the face of digital photography. Using a vast library of digital body parts, fabrics and foliage, van Empel creates dream-like photographic utopias, where nothing is exactly as it seems.
Prompted by a desire for a more minimalist aesthetic, at the turn of the century van Empel began experimenting with Photoshop. Each of his figures is a hybrid, resulting from his painstaking synthesis of hundreds of diverse fragments taken from his own photography: eyes, noses and lips are collaged together to create the entirely new human forms that inhabit his images. The process is painstaking, as a single work can take up to three months to complete. The results are often an uncanny synthesis of the alluring and the unsettling. His methods engage with questions of identity, truth and artificiality in an age where digital simulation is ubiquitous.
Ruud van Empel was born in Breda, The Netherlands, in 1958. Van Empel graduated with a degree in graphic design from the Academie St. Joost. Ruud van Empel’s work has been exhibited extensively: his work is held in the collections of several major galleries and museums throughout the world, including MoPA Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards including the Municipality of Breda Oeuvre Prize in 2013 and the Artist of the Year Award from American Friends of Museum, New York in 2017.
The artist lives and works in Amsterdam.