Inventing Van Gogh Ruud van Empel
From 14 August to 5 December 2021, the Vincent van GoghHuis in Zundert presents an exhibition with new works by visual artist Ruud van Empel. Especially for this occasion, Van Empel has immersed himself in the world of Van Gogh. He has recomposed his paintings of flower still lifes, landscapes and portraits by means of photo fragments. In this way he brings Van Gogh’s art closer to reality, while it remains very aesthetic and dreamy through his adaptations of form and light effects.
Ruud van Empel (Breda, 1958) has reinvented Van Gogh’s portrait. Nobody knows exactly what Vincent really looked like as an adult. After all, there are no portrait photos of him after his 19th birthday. We base our idea of his appearance mainly on his painted self-portraits, which differ greatly from one another. Van Empel has attempted to reconstruct Van Gogh’s portrait on the basis of photographs of various look-a-likes. He used the nose and ears of one, the eyes and hair of the other. He has placed the parts on well-known self-portraits by Van Gogh. He has situated the new Vincents in scenes that recall places in his life, such as the Borinage, Provènce and his studio.
For this exhibition, Van Empel also produced a series of photographic works based on landscapes and flower still lifes by Van Gogh. There are interpretations of ‘Sunflowers in a vase’, ‘Butterflies and poppies’, ‘Grass ground’, ‘Flowering peach tree’, ‘Wild roses with beetle’ and ‘The old yew tree’. These motifs show his strong affinity with Van Gogh. They remind us of the region of Brabant where they both grew up. Van Gogh’s Zundert is located near Van Empel’s birthplace Breda. They therefore share a love for nature in this area, in the future Van Gogh National Park