Artsy About Town Exhibitions museums Photography

Artsy About Town: Ruud van Empel’s Strange Beauty

I have had the work of Dutch artist Ruud van Empel pinned to my Pinterest board for months now.  Imagine my excitement when we arrived in San Diego back in October and I saw who was coming to the Museum of Photographic Arts at Balboa Park!  Since then, I’ve had the postcard for his show, Strange Beauty, hanging on our fridge, just waiting to see this compelling work up close.

*I snapped this pic before I saw the sign for no photography.  Shhh.. don’t tell on me!

The artist’s first solo show in an American museum, Strange Beauty showcases over 40 of van Empel’s digitally created works.  I hate to call them digitally enhanced photographs because they are so very much more than that.  Ruud van Empel carefully constructs each piece, meticulously layering staged photographs, digital imagery, and collage.

World #7 by Ruud Van Empel

World #7, cibachrome, 41.43×59.06

The results are stunningly haunting, complex imagery.  With a background in theater arts and graphic graphic design, van Empel sets a beautifully enticing stage, one in we aren’t sure whether his characters should feel right at home or terribly out of place.

World #20 by Rudd van Empel

World #20, cibachrome, 23.5×33

The Office #41 by Ruud van Empel

The Office #41, digital print on paper, 12.01×13.78

Untitled #1 by Ruud van Empel

Untitled #1, cibachrome, 33.11×46.81

As you look closely at each image, you aren’t sure where the actual photograph and the manipulation or collage begins.. in many we would be surprised to know which elements were not present all along.

Generation #2 by Ruud van Empel

Generation #2, cibachrome, 130×49

Strange Beauty runs through February 3, 2013 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.  If you’re anywhere near the area, I highly recommend a visit!  You can also see more of Ruud van Empel’s work on his website.

Top image by Artsy Forager.  All other images are via the artist’s website.

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  • An almost surreal effect. Extremely beautiful work.

  • At first I couldn’t tell if they were paintings or not. Amazing work!

    • Lesley

      Aren’t they?! Truly incredible in person.