De titel van de tentoonstelling verwijst naar het verslag dat Van Empel doet van zijn zoektocht naar zijn persoonlijke vergankelijkheid, zijn ontwikkeling van kind tot man, de verloren beeldcultuur van zijn jeugdjaren, de eerste blijken van zijn kunstenaarschap. Hij neemt ons mee langs de voorwerpen, de tekeningen, de foto’s die bewaard zijn gebleven. Spullen die ook zelf al de tand des tijds ondervinden. Zo zien we in zijn werk Sketchbooks enkele door Van Empel getekende zelfportretten terug. Van klein jochie tot ergens voor in de twintig, vlak voor zijn afstuderen op Sint Joost in 1981. Andere werken hebben rechtstreeks betrekking op zijn ouders. Mom en Dad zijn portretten, maar niet in de klassieke zin van het begrip. Beide werken zijn samengesteld uit voorwerpen, die hen op een of andere manier kenschetsen. Zoals de bolletjes wol en de PTT-pet, want moeder breide graag en vader was elektromonteur van telefooncentrales.
Tijdens de tentoonstelling zal ook de nieuwe catalogus van 76 pagina's van Ruud van Empel getoond worden.
Ruud van Empels werk is wereldwijd te zien geweest, zoals in de tentoonstelling ‘Picturing Eden’, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, USA (2006); ‘Dangerous Beauty’, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, USA; ‘An Instinctive Eye’, Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev, Oekraine (2007); ‘Diana und Acteon’, Museum Kunst palast, Düsseldorf, Duitsland (2008); ‘The Enchanted Garden’, The New Gallery, Auckland, Nieuw Zeeland (2008); ‘Ulsan International Photography Festival’, Ulsan Culture and Arts Center, Ulsan, Korea (2009); ‘Small Adults’, Shay Arye Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel (2010) en ‘Imagine Earth’, Seoul Arts Center Seoul, Korea (2011). In 2016 zal zijn werk opgenomen worden in de blockbuster tentoonstelling Bling Bling baby, in het NRW Forum, Düsseldorf, Duitsland, door curator Nadine Barth (Hatje Cantz).English
It is far from an easy task to classify someone as prolific, creative and versatile as Ruud van Empel, let alone place his works in an art genre box. For nearly 10 years he has been developing his particular style, for which he is internationally known, depicting hundreds of innocent-looking children in dense nature, and since not long ago also still lifes and nudes.
Van Empel is one of a kind on the contemporary art scene. His various pictures resonate with many classical artworks, as he uses elements, compositions and topics from previous epochs and incorporates them in his pictures to create his own, unique and poignant style.
The current show at Flatland Gallery will focus on his latest works, his still lifes and self portraits.
Van Empel employs the inheritance of cubists, exploring traditional artistic techniques within a contemporary framework. Just like Henri Matisse, who designed his monumental Oceania using cut-outs, van Empel creates digital photo collages from pictures he took and cut out on a digital screen. Though at first glance his works appear to be photos taken in real life, they depict a world shaped entirely by the artist. He places plants together that would never coexist in nature and portrays faces of people that have never lived and never will.
Most of his work is aesthetically pleasing however it is hard to believe that there is no under meaning. As with his earlier series Souvenier from 2008, a more personal one, the photographed objects from the artist’s childhood and youth put together form a reminder of the lost past and his parents. In his recent Still lifes, 2014-2015, again layers can be seen; they seem to show how easily life can perish.
The new still lifes are somewhat an echo of his Souvenir, 2008 and The office, 1996-1998 series, especially in the way the artist places various objects together. Like in Souvenir, where he composed pictures of elements used in his home or kept for sentimental reasons, Still life - Photo, is created out of personal photos of the artist. He put them on show in his picture in a similar fashion to how collections of artworks of noble patrons were displayed in kunstkamers, as portrayed in the painting of David Teniers. All of the elements are visible and rather densely set together.
Still life - Fungi is an obvious reference to the classical topic of the 17th cent. Dutch “banquet” still lifes, composed of carefully arranged food, often in the process of decay. It evokes paintings of Floris van Dyck, Pieter Claesz, Willem Claesz Heda, to name a few.
Van Empel’s Still life - Guts lies within the tradition of depicting slaughtered animals. This artistic theme was started in the 17th cent. by Rembrandt and continued by artists in the following centuries, such as Soutine and Bacon. While various intensions lied behind these creations, all of the works are very expressive and moving. What is remarkable about the Still life series is that unlike others they are monochrome. Van Empel adjusts the backgrounds to tonally match the displayed objects in the pictures. There are no distracting colour contrast, allowing the viewer to keep a better focus on the composition.
The meaning of this series is rather evident, as it shows the impermanence of life. His Bubbles are ephemeral and break in an instance, the food is completely rotten in Fungi, the owners of Gold and Crystals seem to be long forgotten or dead, while in his Still life full of self portraits the gradual aging of the artist can be observed. The preservation of things, our childhood, pieces of memory, is a natural force, recognizable for all of us.
Ruud van Empel (1958) was born and studied at the fine arts academy in Breda. His first projects involved making authorial films and designing scenography. He began to develop his style in the late 1980s, when he created handmade, cut out collages. With the dawn of Photoshop he adapted this technique, transforming it into digital montages. Since then van Empel has been known world-wide and his works are now in collections of art institutions around the globe. His pictures can be found in the USA at the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection in Los Angeles, the Alturas Foundation in San Antonio, MoPA Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, in London at the Arad Collection and C-Photo Collection, at the CB Collection in Tokyo, Japan, at Catlin Re Switzerland in Zurich, Switzerland, at the Tel Aviv Museum Of Art in Tel Aviv, Israel, at the Generali Foundation in Vienna, Austria, at the Groninger Museum in Groningen and many more.
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