"World #31", 2008, from the series "World", Cibachrome print on dibond and plexiglass, 33x23½“. Courtesy of Stux Gallery, NYC.

“World #31”, 2008, from the series “World”, Cibachrome print on dibond and plexiglass, 33×23½“. Courtesy of Stux Gallery, NYC.

Ruud van Empel

Ruud van Empel creates photo-collages by meticulously stitching together fragments taken from an archive of thousands of images the artist photographs himself. Upon viewing the pristinely rendered images, however, no obvious trace of van Empel’s particular technique is evident. The viewer is instead drawn to his conflicting worlds which appear false, but at the same time undeniably realistic. Portrayed as children alone, in pairs, or in groups, his subjects are seemingly held captive in magical moments of exoticized innocence. Van Empel’s images take the approach of tackling the problem of representation by over-representing. He offers hyperbolized representations of childhood and aspects of identity formation including race, gender, and sexuality. In van Empel’s work, the surreal appearance and content of the imagery work together to discuss the complex relationship between fantasy and reality.

Ruud van Empel (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Joost Breda in 1981. He has had solo shows at the Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego, CA), the Fiatland Gallery Utrecht (Amsterdam, Holland), the Stux Gallery (NYC), and the Art+Art Gallery (Moscow, Russia) among others. His work has also been featured in various group shows at the Kasteel van Gaasbeek (Brussel, Belgium), K/Haus (Vienna, Austria), The Netherlands Embassy (Washington, DC) and International Festival of Photography 2012 (Knokke, Belgium) among others. His work has been reviewed by Photographer’s Companion, Fotografie, Collect September and others. He has been published in magazines such as Photo, Tokyo Photo, L’Officiel, and The New York Times. Ruud is also the recipient of the 1981 St. Joost prize, the 1993 Charlotte Kohler prize, and the 2001 H.N. Werkman prize. His most recent monograph entitled, Ruud Van Empel: Photoworks 1995-2010 was released in November of 2011.