Obsession for perfection from the expert of dissonances


Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art

April 4 – May 21

There is beautiful art and there is great art. Beautiful art charms the eye, while great art helps us to come to terms with the inescapable pain and bitterness of existence.

Under the season XVII the Dance Open festival together with the Erarta museum announce the exhibition of works by Erwin Olaf — world famous artist of photography — that will take place from April, 4 to May, 21, 2018.

In the case of Erwin Olaf, it might be more appropriate to use the rarer designation “photographic artist”. Photography is his medium, but this is essentially a technical factor. When we look at his works, it’s immediately apparent that how exactly he creates his dizzying imagery is utterly unimportant. Whether he were drawing a pencil across paper, splattering paint onto canvas, etching precise lines with India ink or, as happens actually to be the case, clicking the shutter on a camera, he would always be an artist in the true sense of the word. A personality. A creator. A thinker. What he does when he sets up his equipment or runs his fingers over a keyboard is a matter of technique.

Erwin Olaf's portfolio is full of shoking and popular projects: from the series created in toilets of Amsterdam clubs, provocative series «Fashion victims» and «Royal Blood», commercial photoshoots for Hennesy Cognac, Heineken, Nokia and Microsoft to collaborations with the leading ballet and opera companies.

Erwin Olaf is undoubtedly a conceptualist, and in the best sense of the word. He is no passive “mirror on nature” because he knows exactly what he wants to say to the viewer with each of his shots. Guided by the concept, he first choses his model and then transforms them, revealing their secrets, uncovering every nerve and every vibration of their soul.

The artist comes across the ideal model — pliant, responsive, and with a lifetime spent realizing the artistic visions of others. The name of that model is the Dutch National Ballet. At the centre of attention is the human body — the dancer’s body, which is habitually obliged to survive the most extreme conditions, to bear supernatural physical strain and intense emotional stress in the quest for perfection, and for annihilation.

Through the masterfully structured compositions of the staged shots, through the untrammeled plasticity of the bodies, and through metamorphosis and pantomime, Erwin Olaf tells the innermost truths of human nature with biblical universality and Shakespearean passion.

Behind the outward provocation — clamouring to overturn the cannons — clearly evidence a wealth of cultural traditions. After all, both the ballet and the artist capturing them are natives of Holland, a country where the art of visualization reached its apogee, from the thoughtful wonders of the Northern Renaissance to the deeply penetrative psychologism of Rembrandt, from the multi-layered symbolism and exquisite materialism of the other Dutch Masters to the untrammeled, unearthly expressions of Van Gogh.

Erwin Olaf was awarded by the Association of Photographers award in London, PDN award in New-York and one of the Cannes Lions.

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