HomePage Artists

b. 1959, Netherlands

Erwin Olaf Biography

Erwin Olaf's art visualizes implicitly the unspoken, the overlooked, that typically resist easy documentation. Olaf's trademark is to address social issues, taboos, and bourgeois conventions in a highly stylized and cunning mode of image making. With his razor-sharp aesthetic intuition, Olaf purposely conceals his themes, so that the viewer has to accept the initial concealment in Olaf's photo series. Yet in the end, his unconventional style never misses to deliver dramatic visual and emotional impact.By taking care of the scenic and lightning design, and the utmost perfect composition in his typical, immaculate 'Olafian' way, together with his passion for flawlessly conceiving scenarios, Olaf vividly captures the essence of contemporary life.

Read More

Mixing photojournalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged on the international art scene in 1988, when his series Chessmen was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. This award was followed by an exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany in the same year. Deliberately disturbing and intended to raise awareness, Olaf committed himself in his earlier work on the subject of social exclusion in which he explored issues of class, race, sexual taste, beliefs, habits and grace. In his recent series Rain (2004), Hope (2005), Grief (2007) and Fall (2008) Olaf challenges the notion of domestic bliss. Dusk (2009) and Dawn (2010) show how culture can become repression, despite a beautiful appearance. A similar disengagement takes place in Olaf's Hotel (2010) series in which he explores the subtle range of detached melancholic emotions in dimly-lit exquisitely furnished 1950s hotel rooms.

Text courtesy Art Statements.

Erwin Olaf Featured Artworks

Grief, Irene Portrait by Erwin Olaf contemporary artwork
Erwin OlafGrief, Irene Portrait, 2007Lambda print
133 x 100 cm
FLATLAND Contact Gallery
Du Mansion - Portrait 01 by Erwin Olaf contemporary artwork
Erwin OlafDu Mansion - Portrait 01, 2017Fine art print, 2 sizes available
FLATLAND Contact Gallery
The Ice Cream Parlour by Erwin Olaf contemporary artwork
Erwin OlafThe Ice Cream Parlour, 2004Lambda print, 2 sizes available
FLATLAND Contact Gallery
The Farewell by Erwin Olaf contemporary artwork
Erwin OlafThe Farewell, 2018Fine art print, 2 sizes available
FLATLAND Contact Gallery

Erwin Olaf Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Flowers are part of our story and our history. at FLATLAND, Amsterdam
Closed
30 May–31 August 2020 Group Exhibition Flowers are part of our story and our history. FLATLAND, AmsterdamAmsterdam

Erwin Olaf In Related Press

View All (6)
Solitary Anticipation Related Press Solitary Anticipation 18 November 2019, Aesthetica Magazine

That feeling of discomfort, awkwardness and uncomfortable expectation: Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf captures the very essence of waiting in his recent series Waiting (2014). Opening in October, Olaf's film and photographic installation is a 360-degree psychological experiment. The audience watches a woman waiting, mimicking their own role in an...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Dutch Artist Erwin Olaf's Polished Photos Celebrate Fantasy While Revealing Society's Ills, Part 2 Related Press Dutch Artist Erwin Olaf's Polished Photos Celebrate Fantasy While Revealing Society's Ills, Part 2 25 September 2019, Forbes

Born in 1959 in Hilversum in the Netherlands, Erwin Olaf studied journalism in Utrecht. News writing wasn't the right fit, so he was delighted when an insightful teacher proposed photography and put a camera in his hands. A photojournalist documenting the world around him at first, the domain of fantasy had always fascinated the perpetual dreamer...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Erwin Olaf: photography's Dutch master – in pictures Related Press Erwin Olaf: photography's Dutch master – in pictures 17 April 2019, The Guardian

From nightlife-fuelled provocateur to Rembrandt-inspired portraitist, Erwin Olaf – 60 this year – continues to approach his subject with theatrical flair.

Fade out copy.
Read More
A Photographer Who Makes You Ask, ‘What Has Happened Here?’ Related Press A Photographer Who Makes You Ask, ‘What Has Happened Here?’ 13 February 2019, The New York Times

AMSTERDAM—If there’s a single work that encapsulates the artistry of Erwin Olaf, a leading Dutch photographer known for meticulously staged pictures that challenge social taboos and explore human frailty, it might be his 2005 portrait of a young woman in a yellow dress from the 'Hope' series. The brunette with a yellow ribbon in her hair seems...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Erwin Olaf are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
;