Ruud van Empel, World #30, 2008. Cibachrome, dibond, plexiglas. 47×33 inches (119×84 cm.) . Courtesy of Stefan Stux Gallery.
STUX Gallery is pleased to present Dutch artist Ruud van Empel’s third solo exhibition at STUX Gallery. Presented alongside the artist’s thoroughly unique photographs, for the first time, van Empel will further push the reality of his illusions by including cast bronze sculptural renditions of some of his iconic characters, allowing viewers a voyeuristic glimpse into a fully realized 3-dimensional world of new and seemingly improbable settings filled with evocatively harmless childlike characters.
In Souvenir, a new body of work, van Empel invites us to join him on a self-referential journey towards the source of his artistic inspiration, presenting tantalizing images “rescued” from his childhood home, a contemporary homage perhaps to the 17th Century Dutch master still life painter Willem Claez Heda (1594–1680). Of these intensely personal and autobiographical new works, van Empel states that “…memories come from very far, and for most of them, like our old curtains, I only know them from photos.”
In Dawn, also a premier series, van Empel entices us with glimpses of seemingly enchanted characters; prepubescent children set amidst digitally collaged landscapes that create a striking balance between the real and the unreal, the possible and the impossible. Here the artist’s works function as uncanny digitalized “fairytales,” created through the mastery and manipulation of digital technology, confounding the conventionally sensitive emotional cues often coupled with his innocent subjects.
These fascinating new works are counterpointed by van Empel’s now classic series Moon and World. Two sides of the same coin, these high gloss and richly saturated photographs are comprised of hundreds of individual photographs that were taken by the artist himself, then digitally compiled and edited to produce what, in reality, would be impossible to capture in one, or even multiple film exposures. The juxtaposition of the artist’s hyper-realistic elements, lushly filled backgrounds that contain the haunting gaze of children, create a mysterious relationship between two conspicuously diverse visual worlds. In this context, associations can be made to the paintings of the “Naïve Realists” and in particular to Henri Rousseau’s late virgin forest pictures.