Good artists strive to explore the extremes of their concepts. This I believe is the background of De Ruijter’s decision, of 2003, to shift his attention from the so familiar Dutch landscape to a new landscape and thus put his art to the ultimate test.
The high desert of New Mexico, in the American Southwest, has not much in common with the lowlands of the Netherlands. In the expanse of the high desert it is geology that has the final word. The land’s cultural history does not date back just a few scores of years or a couple of centuries, no, the land invites to make a journey into time of millions of years. The land is too vast to accept much, or any, human intervention. Even the animals disappear in the endless rock formations, sand flats, volcanic fields, and limestone ridges.
One wonders how De Ruijter can find here any of the disruptive uncertainties that create the suspense so evidently present in the photographs from his “Dutch period.” By taking his kites, and now also a helium blimp to carry his camera, to New Mexico, De Ruijter laid himself open to all the risks that are inherent in empty space – a space offering nothing to hold on to. Without standards , no tumble either. At eye level the New Mexico landscape is indeed oversized, even outsized. But when seen from De Ruijter’s kite-camera or blimp-camera, the high desert, surprisingly, is not without Gestalt at all.
In De Ruijter’s new work a new tension takes over from the tumble between figurative and abstract, a new sensation hits the excited observer: nothing explains what is detail, what is large scale. Doubt accompanies the observer– is he looking at a macro shot of a fossil or a shot of the moon as seen from Earth? The images now are almost fully abstract, and De Ruijter’s “White Sands” triptych is practically a homage to Jan Schoonhoven. Again, though, in the pinpoint- sharp images enough real landscape remains to be detected to confuse the observer. read more>