Ruud Van Empel’s photography is remarkable, eerie, strange. At first you might be mistaken for thinking they’re photo realistic paintings, contemporary reworkings of Northern Rennaisance portrait paintings. They’re not. But you wouldn’t be far off. Infact they’re photo montages of incredible and intricate detail.
So how does he do it? Why do his subjects have unnaturally smooth skin? Why does the light create such a strange dissonance? Why does everything seem out of proportion? Well it’s all to do with his process. First he photographs four or five models in his studio which he then manipulates to create hybrid subjects, a montage of many. To create an environment for his subjects he takes loads of detailed photographs of natural and man made objects such as leaves, flowers, plants, animals, trees, office equipment, etc and then combines them to create a paradise, an imaginary world of tropical forests, surreal offices, etc.
Empel is interested in the perfect arrangement of individual objects rather than the reality. This obssession leads to objects being out of proportion to one another however this is offset by the perfect harmony he achieves through colour and form. You’ll also notice how busy, how full his images are, its as if he’s afraid of space, every last area of the image is filled with details to achieve an aesthetically balanced composition. Perhaps this is one of the reasons his pictures are so jarring.
Either way they’re mind boggling photographs and I’d love to see them – I don’t think a computer could pssibly do them justice.
His work is currently showing at the Gallery Terra Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan from 1st September – 6th October, 2012
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