Ruud van Empel (Breda, 1958) cuts, glues and manipulates his digital photo collages to create a new world - an ideal, fairy-tale world - using a computer as his paintbrush. One of the main distinguishing features of his compositions is their high level of perfection. They are indeed almost too perfect - every detail, every colour is sublimated. The world created by Van Empel is a surreal world. His designs may look quite realistic, but what they represent has in fact never existed. They are creations, subtly and meticulously composed by their visionary creator. The manipulated images are almost too beautiful to be true. This unnatural perfection makes Van Empel’s works appear mysterious and somewhat disturbing – you sense that there is something malicious lurking beneath the surface, but you don’t know exactly where or when it may manifest itself.
In his photo works, Ruud van Empel likes to focus on particular themes, which he works out in phases. Civil servants in their offices in his The Office (1996-2001) series, scenes viewed from a window in Frame Story (1998-2000) and femmes fatales in his Study for 4 Women (2000) and The Naarden Studies (2002).
For his latest series, entitled Study in Green, from the years 2003-2004, Van Empel for the first time chose nature as his main theme. Young schoolgirls in a forest. Some appear to be the epitome of unblemished innocence, others are imbued with a disturbing Lolita-like beauty. They are surrounded by coy Bambis among the greenery, a wolf in a storybook forest, a lost owlet in a hollow tree or unspoilt wooded scenery. But you only have to look at all that greener-than-green scenery to know that there are dangers hidden somewhere in the shrubbery – nameless, indefinable threats, but nonetheless present everywhere. A feeling of disquiet crawls under your skin and will remain with you long after you’ve turned your back on the works.