Rudolph Franciscus Maria van Empel graduated Cum Laude from the Academie St. Joost, Breda (1976-1981) as a graphic designer. Having worked briefly as a designer, he devoted his attention to making free video tapes and staged photography. From the mid-eighties onwards he was as a creative designer of theatre decor and was the artistic director of various television and film productions. He also produced posters for films, cultural programmes and organizations.
In the mid-nineties, he decided to develop himself further as a visual artist. His first photo series are entitled The Office (1995-2001), Study for Women (1999-2002) and Study in Green (2003). He presented his first solo exhibition in the Groninger Museum in 1999 under the title Waterpas of Optisch recht? (Level or Optically straight?)
His international breakthrough came with his series of works entitled World, Moon, Venus (2005-2008). These were first exhibited in the Picturing Eden exhibition, compiled by Deborah Klochko, in the George Eastman House. Many exhibitions followed and the Sir Elton John photo collection is just one of the many collections which now contain examples of Van Empel’s work.
Van Empel’s working method is a complex one. He photographs four or five professional models in his studio and takes many detailed photographs of leaves, flowers, plants and animals. The models pictures are mixed with these images using the Photoshop program and with clothes photographed separately on a tailor’s dummy. In this way he creates new images of mainly children, in black and white, set in a paradisaical environment.
In his series World and Dawn, both combined amongst other series in the 2009 book Photoworks, Ruud seeks to find innocence and beauty in his composed photographic works. He uses nature and children as his subjects, creating vibrant images that have a outer-worldly feel to them. The work of van Empel has been in numerous publications and in countless exhibitions.