PDN Photo of the Day

Ruud van Empel’s Invented Portraits

Childhood and innocence have been themes in Ruud van Empel’s work for more than a decade, but despite his sweet subjects, his images evoke an uncanny feeling. Carefully constructed in Photoshop from elements in photos that van Empel takes or collects, the images depict boys and girls posed among flowers or against rich backdrops, dressed in vintage styles that recall van Empel’s 1960s youth in the Netherlands. The images are convincing in their attention to detail, but there is something unsettling in the young faces—they exist only in the digital realm, and seem to long for a more soulful existence. Landscapes crowded with meticulously rendered flowers and weeds and insects allude to the history of Dutch still life painting, where flowers that bloomed in different seasons were sometimes pictured together. A selection of van Empel’s recent images is on view at Jackson Fine Art in Atlanta in a show, “Portraits,” opening today and on view until July 1, along with a show of work by Matthew Brandt.

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