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Maria Carolina Baulo, Argentinean writer versed in Art History, Cinematography, Photography and Theatre.

Ruud van Empel - Desire

Ruud van Empel was born in Breda, The Netherlands, in 1958. If there's a place in the world that ever gave humanity the most remarkable examples of creativity, talent and artistic skills, that would be The Netherlands. Dutch and Flemish artists started a tradition back in the XIV century that competed with the most important exponents of the Italian Renaissance, and never stopped ever since: Bosch, Bouts, the Van Eyck brothers, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Van Doesburg, De Kooning, Mondrian. The list of talented artists is overwhelming. If all of them have something in common, in my humble opinion, I think that would be the exquisite way in which they combine colors, the brightness of the images given by new techniques such as oil (which they created), the high quality in every detail and the realistic representation mostly in clothes that was never achieved before. And these are characteristics that for sure we could find in Ruud van Empel's art.

Ruud van Empel worked in the "art industry" all his life; he worked in theater and graphics as a designer, as well as in the film industry. But nothings seemed to be more powerful that his love for photography, and back in the nineties he started experimenting with black and white images and finally introducing color. Color is such an important issue in his production because van Empel created scenarios (most of them organized in series) of extraordinary richness in details such as the ones his ancestors would create in the Flemish gardens they painted where hundreds of different kinds of plants could be identified. The artist, instead of using oil, which helps to make something real come alive, instead, he paints the photographs. There's no way an image could get more real than that and even though, we are still facing magic. Because no matter how vivid the image appears to us, we are in presence of an illusion and the artist becomes the biggest illusionist of all when we believe in what we see.

The artist himself highlighted some topics he is always interesting in bringing out in his works: innocence, fantasy and beauty. But what about desire? Is there any? Well, I guess desire is always there somehow. I'm referring to that primitive impulse, that inner and always necessary flame that makes the artist feel before calculating any movement; then the procedure could be methodic but once that "something" from inside generated its first movement. Then, as a "domino effect" the creation process begins.

Ruud van Empel is concerned about perfection (once again, just as his ancestors), therefore, he manipulates and generates an interesting interaction between the possibilities technology brings and the never ending power of the most subtle paints, to create that perfect, fantastic, mysterious characters that inhabit his stories. Landscapes and children, animals and forests, beautiful women and babies, the wild and the "civilized", sharing the same environment as if possible. Probably some kind of heaven the artist creates; desire is involved in that choices, even if it is in an unconscious way, desire must be the engine. Those "heavenly feelings", as van Empel himself defines them, probably reflect something he always wanted, something that belongs to his deepest desires.

I believe imagination could be a very powerful thing; scary sometimes and some others such a lovely compensation within this crazy world we are living in. Imagination could save us from getting lost in reality. Imagination makes us dream while we are awake, and if combined with those desires we have inside and we set them free once in a while (when we permit ourselves to be kids again), it could be extraordinary. Art invites us to create that imaginary situation. When Ruud van Empel chooses children to play the leading roles, which is in most of the cases, that primitive impulse of desire, that feeling that everything is possible turns into something concrete. Fantasy has no limits and invades the territory that belongs to reality. And we enjoy those scenes created by artists like van Empel because we get a chance to be as naïf, innocent and fresh as those kids staring at us; at least for a moment.

María Carolina Baulo

Most famous series: The Office (1995-1998), Study for women (2000-2002), Study in Green (2003-2004), Untitled (2004), World and Moon & Venus (2005-2006), just to mention a few.



'Ruud van Empel, Photographic works' is exhibited at Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen in the Netherland, from 24 March-3 June 2007.

Ruud van Empel is represented in Paris by Galerie Rabouan Moussion, 121 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris.



'Ruud van Empel, Photographic works' is exhibited at Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen in the Netherland, from 24 March-3 June 2007.

Ruud van Empel is represented in Paris by Galerie Rabouan Moussion, 121 rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris.


by Ruud van Empel. All rights reserved.