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26.02 -
Den Haag
The Netherlands
GROUP EXHIBITION "H X B X D RABO Kunstcollectie" Curator Marieke van Schijndel


Ruud van Empel’s work is not unknown to the Dutch public, even though today, many will not ­recognize it at first.  The computer became an essential working tool. In the series of men and women sitting behind their desk, all are created by digital techniques. Scientists are surrounded by indefinable little instruments that seem so intricate; the project of an unknown machine hangs on the wall and a smoking chimney appears through the window. In another picture, the museum curator is encircled by works by Rodin and Degas and the beautician is placed in an environment where face and body are significantly ­present. But one would soon be tired of these ­photographs if they reflected reality. In fact they do not. If it can be observed that the contents are ‘right’, one must also admit that none of the details really are. Ruud van Empel first lays his ideas in a sketch. Then he works in an eclectic way, using every possible detail from his archives of picture-stories and art magazines. Sometimes, when he can’t find exactly what he’s looking for, he creates his own accessories. He scans every object he finds, even typical heads or details of shadows on walls; then he cuts and repasts them with the mouse to create new images on the computer’s screen. Everything must seem to match. Van Empel likes his objects to obey him; each detail is then disposed in an apparently perfect order. Each picture is a precise image of the people closed in their own world. Each one has its personal atmosphere, as a result of Ruud van Empel’s search to define his characters’ personality until every detail fits in with astonishing accuracy. Doing so, he displays a great faculty to embody the characters of his pictures and to imagine his environ­ment from there. Thus, fantasy and actor’s talent are essential.

In these works that seem radiant of neutrality, Ruud van Empel combines his knowledge of styling and computers with his apparent need of quietness. It’s a form of intemporality visualized through the stiff poses, the clothing and the hair style of the past, from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. But the scenes could also be contemporary. It is not a coincidence that Van Empel is attracted to the formality of the american, who must dress in offices in a non-offensive way. His characters also adapt to their surrounding and vice versa.The director accomplished his work. Let the work speak for itself.