Ruth van Beek (b. 1977) uses the established visual codes of photography - a shadow, pedestal, dark backdrop, or gesture - to guide viewers into a belief in the incredible rarity or importance of the shown object, even when that object is unidentifiable. From a growing archive of found photographic material, van Beek arranges images in constantly changing ways. The primary source for her odd and playful collages are specialist books and magazines of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Titles on subjects including the proper tending of bonsai trees, the care of cacti, and the art of Japanese flower arranging—often found at thrift stores across Europe and the United States—provide rich material for her unique pieces. From these odd combinations and decontextualized images van Beek makes her work. By cutting and folding, adding shapes of watercolor-painted paper and forging visual connections between found pictures, the artist makes form, scale and colors reverberate, often to unsettling or comical effect. These overt interventions are never hidden; indeed they are central to the work. Van Beek lives and works in Koog aan de Zaan, in the Netherlands.
Her work has been shown internationally at the likes of FOMU (BE); ETAL Gallery, (US); The Ravestijn Gallery (NL); Les rencontres d’Arles (FR); Flowers Gallery (UK) and Fraenkel Gallery (US) amongst others. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Centrefold Magazine, Foam Magazine, The NewYorker, IMA Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, The Aperture Photobook Review, Financial Times, Elephant Magazine and The New York Times.
She has published numerous artist books including The Arrangement (2013) which was shortlisted for the Aperture Photobook of the Year Award in 2014 and How To Do The Flowers (2018), co-published by Art Paper Editions (BE) and Dashwood Books (US) to widespread acclaim. Her new book, Eldorado, made in collaboration with Willem Van Zoetendaal and published by Van Zoetendaal Publishers, will be released this autumn.