I first encountered Ruud Van Empel’s work during Art Basel Miami in 2009. I turned a corner and in the center of the wall was a little black girl, her skin as rich as chocolate, in a beautiful sequined chartreuse dress, daintily holding a little purse with her lace-gloved hands. The colors were so vivid, the environment was so utopian. The texture of the dress seemed so tangible and the artwork seemed like a more beautiful, perfect version of real life. I was hooked. The work of art was Ruud Van Empel’s World #27.
His subjects are all so interesting. His models are as diverse as the color palette he uses and they are styled to perfection. The settings are always interesting and idyllic. Every time you look at one of his pieces, you find something new, so much thought and detail have gone into Van Empel’s work. All of this detail and beauty comes from a technique Van Empel developed after graduating from Art School in the Netherlands in 1981. Van Empel photographs models and nature, taking the most perfect aspects of all, then cuts them out and pieces them together through Photoshop. None of the models he uses is a real person, but an amalgam of features from many models. The environments he creates are created from a perfect leaf photographed maybe five years ago and a perfect flower photographed yesterday, pieced together to make a heavenly forest.
A great interview with Van Empel can be found HERE. He explains his thought process and why a boy who grew up in a small, mostly white, Catholic town in the Netherlands decided to use very diverse subjects.