ONCE UPON A TIME….Ruud van Empel uses the medium of photography as an independent form of imagination.Every image consists of photo’s, taken by himself, that are digitally assembled on the computer. He works conceptual and has created a new genre within photography.In his series Untitled (2004) he explores the theme of innocence, the sequel series World (2005) he uses a black child for the first time as a symbol of innocence. These works were inspired by photos taken during his own childhood by his father. A typical feature of the work of Ruud van Empel is the composition of a perfected and idealized representation right down to the finest details. But this always has a darker side, albeit not always evident.
Every summer, Vichy becomes one with the art it hosts at the Portrait(s) Photography Festival, held in a variety of locations in the city. This year is the fourth anniversary of the festival, which runs from 10 June to 4 September. For an entire season the city will resume its place at the leading edge of contemporary photography, offering the public striking yet accessible exhibitions, all centred exclusively on the art of the portrait. The festival celebrates portraits of all kinds, whether based in the documentary tradition or in pure fiction, intimacy or more conceptual schemes. Drawing from the work of both established figures and younger artists, it brings together celebrity portraits and the faces of the unknown, offering a voyage along which a multiplicity of different ways of seeing and being seen emerge, with the aim of bringing the public to discover or rediscover the portrait in its most classical and most disconcerting forms. For the third year running, Vichy has also reconfirmed its commitment to contemporary photography by offering a photographer a stay in the city. This year the artist in residence has been Sweden’s Anton Renborg, who, pacing the city streets by day and night, in both fair weather and foul, has developed a fascination with the special atmosphere of the places in it.This year, Portrait(s) presents ten artists, exhibitions of whose work are being held simultaneously in the open, in the city centre and the outskirts. The galleries of the Centre Culturel Valery-Larbaud, which was built at the beginning of the last century, will feature work by Jean Depara, Nicolas Comment, Hellen van Meene, Nicola Lo Calzo, Maï Lucas, Ruud van Empel and Jean-Christian Bourcart.