Ruud van Empel, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Ruud van Empel’s “Fantasy Portraits” At Beetles+Huxley Faces too symmetrical, clothes perfectly ironed, trees with not a leaf out of place, there’s something unsettling about Dutch photographer Ruud van Empel’s work. It sits uncomfortably on the line between reality and fantasy; leaving the viewer full of questions. Who are these children? Where are they? Why is their gaze so blank?

The answer lies in Van Empel’s technique, one he has spent decades developing and perfecting. Photography is a medium used most often to document the outside world, with the artist seeking moments and finding beauty in that which already exists. Van Empel however, begins with an idea and then seeks out subjects that fit his imagination. But the scenes he imagines don’t really exist so he must construct them, picking little bits of reality and rearranging them to suit his fancy.

Ruud van Empel, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNMood #11 | © Ruud van Empel

Ruud van Empel, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNMoon #7 | © Ruud van Empel

Ruud van Empel, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNMood #4 | © Ruud van Empel

Ruud van Empel, African American Art, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNSunday #2 | © Ruud van Empel


Beetles+Huxley is a leading art gallery founded in London in 2010 by Chris Beetles and Giles Huxley-Parlour. The gallery’s vibrant exhibition programme focuses on artists working with photography who have played a significant role in the history of art, and those who continue to shape the field in the present day.

Based in Mayfair, Beetles+Huxley represents many influential photographers and has presented exhibitions by artists as diverse as Cecil Beaton, Bruce Davidson, Edward Weston, Joel Meyerowitz, Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Wang Qingsong, Berenice Abbott, Bill Brandt, Vivian Maier and Ruud van Empel. Beetles+Huxley also trades significantly on the secondary market, maintaining a diverse range of stock by photographic masters from Edward Steichen to Irving Penn. (Wikipedia)