Stefan Stux Gallery presents an exhibition of new works by Ruud van Empel, Generations: New Photographs.
Ruud van Empel has become well known for his explorations of childhood and innocence, placing uncanny youngsters in a variety of Edenic settings. In the new series entitled Generation, he has followed these children to school, as it were, in two large panoramas presenting them in the format of the class photo, lined up in ascending rows against a simple backdrop. These children are entering a period of profound disruption nearing the age of puberty, a key life passage that has also served as a locus of interest for artists from Diane Arbus to Rineke Dijkstra. While the children all face forward, their gazes vary, at times seeming uncomfortable with the prospect of meeting that of the camera/viewer. It is this almost existential discomfort—displaced to the empathetic viewer—that gives these works their fundamental charge, opening them up to more active emotional investment/engagement. In the mold of August Sander, one of van Empel’s stated influences, these young adolescents are seen as universal types, but in a way that allows for deeper insight into the humanity of both their situation, and of our own.
Ruud van Empel has exhibited in major museums and galleries around the world with exhibitions at the Groninger Museum, Netherlands; Torch Gallery, Amsterdam; TZR Galerie, Dusseldorf; The Chelsea Art Museum, NYC; Museum of Photographic Arts, CA; Art Cologne, Germany; Museum de Valkhof, Netherlands; The George Eastman House, NY; Galeria Berini, Barcelona; Quatrieme Biennale Internationale, Belgium; Frisia Museum, Netherlands. CB Collection, Tokyo, and at the Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany.