World #5
World #5, 2005. Cibachrome 150cmx105cm.
© Ruud van Empel

FB: The editing and image manipulation are born with photography. The same day, however, is born also the disagreement that still divides into two camps critics, philosophers and photographers. To make a long history short, on one hand there is who sees photography as a reproduction of reality, and eventually says that any external intervention makes the image non photographic. On the other hand there is who sees photography as personal expression, with those who say that without external interventions photography may not be a work of art.

Personally, I think that photography could embrace both these ideas, and photographers of both schools of thought have produced beautiful images. But is not the same for everyone, expecially for people who belives in the reality of photography.

People believe in the reality of photography but not in that of painting, which gives a huge advantage to photographers. Unfortunately, however, even the photographers believe in the reality of photography.
Duane Michals

Since some years for example, one of the best and well-known Italian photographers, Gianni Berengo Gardin leads a fierce battle against digital retouching and image manipulation. While this is understandable as far as journalism is concerned, I am astonished by certain reactions from the world of artistic photography, which should be much more open.

What do you think about this dichotomous division of photography? Does it happen to hear someone say that your pictures are beautiful but not “real photographies”?

RvE: The opinions are indeed divided about this subject, some people say my work is absolute photography because I photograph and montage everything, so it is in the line of photography.
others say this is contemporary art, and that is also because of its size, I sometimes make very large pieces like World#17 (300 x 100 cm) and because this works different on this large scale it is being experienced more as art than photography.

You could call it photo-art.

World #17
World #17, 2006. Cibachrome 100cmx300cm.
© Ruud van Empel


FB: The painting references are very important in your images. As well as a clear citation of naif painters like Henri Rousseau, your pictures remind me Renaissance master works, while at the same time remaining very modern. How important is the pictorial tradition in your work? Who are the authors who have particularly inspired you?

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