Ruth van Beek is a Dutch artist working in collage
Episode 135: I have had the fortunate experience to work with a number of artists whose work I adore. This comes in the form of these interviews, books that I review, but also exhibitions that I have curated. It is a pleasure to be able to speak and work with my gifted contemporaries.
In the case of Ruth van Beek, I was able to show her work in a larger exhibition called Surface Tension: Breaking the Plane of the Photographic Image at FOMU in Antwerp in 2017 for their Braakland series. The exhibition featured a number of artists working between photography and its extended forms.
With Ruth, the emphasis was on her exquisite and charming collage pieces. Her work is singular in its presentation. Her work breaks with the traditional mode of contemporary collage by reducing the recognizable photographic form to something more distilled. The details within the images become formal plays on composition and playful patterns of form. Thought the images start with photographic imagery rent from books and popular imagery, when complete they becomes something abstracted and surreal, if not otherworldly. This comes from a deep intuition within Ruth. It cannot be replicated and is subject to her vision and experience.
When assembled, the work takes on a completely singular presence. It at once feels universal with form vaguely reminiscent of early studies of childhood image acquisition, though this is not the drive of her work per se. This reduction and her colorful palette suggest something deep in the psychological register that feels familiar and distant in equal measure. It is this essence that compels the viewer to “read” the work looking for signs of acknowledgment, which are embedded or hidden within. It might be the suggestion of a subject underneath; fingers groping along the edge of a nectarine form.
In this episode, we speak about Ruth’s process, her love of book shop and her current exhibition at Ravestijn Gallery where her work The Nursery is on view. It was fascinating to speak with her about her work and how it can be read. What appears simple in form often belies a much deeper and intense understanding. It was refreshing to speak with Ruth on the work and her process. I hope to catch her again soon and I remain a consummate fan. Please check out her books.