‘King of Style’ Ruud van der Peijl is about to launch his photographic career with his installation Rude. Portraits of State at the Hague Museum of Photography: formal studio portraits of Dutch celebrities, up-and-coming personalities and people close to the photographer’s heart. The exhibition is all about watching and being watched, glamour and decadence, myth and masks, heaven and hell. With a passing nod to Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ruud van der Peijl reveals the reality behind some of finest illusions of our time. Rude. Portraits of State is a Gesamtkunstwerk: an art work that creates an all-round environment for viewers to experience. Each of the portraits of more or less well-known subjects is of interest in its own right, but also functions as part of an installation.
The visitor enters a distinguished residence in which the walls are hung with photographs, as if in a family portrait gallery. The installation is strongly theatrical in feeling, with ostentatious framing, red coconut matting on the floor, mirrored walls and dramatic lighting effects. Van der Peijl’s background as a fashion designer, exhibition designer and stylist is clearly apparent. Van der Peijl breathes new life into the neglected genre of the studio portrait. In line with tradition, the subject is shown in his or her Sunday best and in a suitably flattering pose. The photographer records the – sometimes literal, but more often figurative – public mask in all its details, but in doing so manages to reveal the naked reality behind it. “By thy mask I shall know thee,” to quote Isak Dinesen, the Danish author of Out of Africa. In Ruud van der Peijl’s work, the interplay of myth, mask and pose allows studio portraits to transcend their limitations and become true psychological portraits.These portraits, with their references both to the history of art and photography and to the mass media, will give visitors greater insight into the personalities of fashion potentate Frans Molenaar, up-and-coming fashion designer Bas Kosters, photographer Rineke Dijkstra, painter Ans Markus, boxer Regilio Tuur, actor Roeland Fernhout and many others. En passant, the photographer annihilates the distinction between so-called ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. Ruud van der Peijl was born in The Hague in 1960. After training as a fashion designer at the Utrecht School of the Arts, he was one of the founders of Gletcher, the first internationally renowned Dutch designer label, in the late ’80s. Through to 1997 he taught fashion and styling at various art schools around the Netherlands while at the same time creating a furore as a stylist for magazines like Squeeze and Blvd. In 1996 his work as a stylist was selected by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam for inclusion in its exhibition Scanning. He has also designed two exhibitions for the Central Museum in Utrecht Modehuis Amelisweerd and FFVideoshow. He now works as a photographer, DJ, manager of pop group Auxraus and creative consultant for various fashion labels. The exhibition is guest curated by Jhim Lamoree, art critic for newspaper Het Parool and is accompanied by a magazine entitled Rude. Portraits of State, containing photographs by Ruud van der Peijl and a preface by Jhim Lamoree. (Published by Terra, € 22.95.) See also: www.vanderpeijl.com www.rudeportraitsofstate.com