Erwin Olaf is a Dutch photographer famous for his commercial and personal work. He studied journalism in the School of Journalism in Utrecht, and his work is often daring and provocative. Olaf lives in Amsterdam, has received many awards and has held countless exhibitions around the world as for example at Hasted Hunt, New York, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris, Gallery Espacio Minimo, Madrid, B&D Gallery, Milan, etc.
Erwin Olaf‘s art implicitly visualises the unspoken, the overlooked, that which typically resists easy documentation. Olaf‘s trademark is to address social issues, taboos and bourgeois conventions within the framework of a highly stylised and cunning mode of imagery. With the aid of his razor-sharp aesthetic intuition, Olaf purposely conceals his themes so that the viewer unconsciously and initially accepts the concealment found in his photo series.
Yet in the end, his unconventional style never fails to deliver dramatic visual and emotional impact. By providing scenic and striking design, along with the utmost perfect composition in his typical, immaculate ‘Olaf’ style, combined with his passion for conceiving flawless scenarios, he vividly captures the essence of contemporary life.
He has has been commissioned to photograph advertising campaigns for large international companies such as Levi’s, Microsoft and Nokia. Some of his most famous photographic series include Grief, Rain, and Royal Blood where he challenges the notion of domestic bliss. Dusk and Dawn show how culture can become repression, despite a beautiful appearance.
Mixing photo journalism 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. In his earlier work on the subject of social exclusion Olaf was deliberately disturbing with the intention of raising awareness and he was dedicated towards exploring issues of class, race, sexual taste, beliefs, habits and grace.
A similar disengagement takes place in Olaf’s Hotel series in which he explores the subtle range of detached melancholic emotions in dimly-lit exquisitely furnished 1950s hotel rooms. In the new series