Johannesburg | South Africa
The ‘master of colours’ Olaf Hajek is arguably one of the most talented artists to emerge from Germany in recent history. Running from 25 April to 12 July 2018 the award winning artist’s work will be showcased at an exhibition at the Southern Guild in Cape Town’s Silo District. This specific exhibition will be the artist’s third solo show in Cape Town and is being held in collaboration with Whatiftheworld.
Whilst Olaf Hajek was born in Rendsburg, the artist grew up in the Netherlands prior to his attending art school. Hajek’s multi-cultural and slightly nomadic childhood influenced the artist greatly and has resulted in his work being influenced by different art forms, styles, cultures and their way of seeing the world. Olaf has an exceptional way of being able to blend these influences together and not only create synergy between them but to create something truly unique. In an interview Hajek commented:
“I love travelling, but most of my travels are kind of mind travels, where I put together all the different ideas and elements of the different cultures. I love to travel to South Africa and get inspired by big cities too.”
Hajek went to Fachhochschule Düsseldorf to study graphic design where he shortly moved over to illustration. Thereafter he spent his early professional years in Amsterdam where he worked as a freelance illustrator. The artist soon became a major pillar in the Global Contemporary Art Community and had the privilege of teaching alongside fashion designer icon Vivienne Westwood. Olaf Hajek was mainly working on advertising and print campaigns during his early career which translates into his work. The artist’s work is never digital and has an organic flow with a vintage graphic feel to them, much like that of early 60’s advertising.
Although the artist’s work is incredibly detailed and structured there remains a flow and free feeling throughout the compositions. The vivid yet muted colouring of each piece evokes a dreamlike feel that is underlined by his depictions that are always blending the magical with reality. The fanciful imagery are reminiscent of both 14th century christian religious panels as well as early eastern religious artworks. The feel of each piece results in a dichotomy between the ancient and the contemporary.
The contradictions within his works extend to the usage of geometric patterns on which the free, yet detailed, shapes of the subjects are painted. This allows for great contrast in shape, feel and composure. His works are typically acrylic painted on either wood, paper or cardboard which gives a beautiful, natural texture and grain to the surface of the works.
Entitled Paravent, Olaf Hajek’s exhibition at the Southern Guild in Cape Town will see 14 acrylic paintings in his new body of work displayed. The name of the exhibition is derived from the french paravent which refers to the motif of the folding screen that is evident throughout the body of work. The works are made up of exquisitely detailed landscapes, portraits, interiors and still-lives. Hajek commented on the his fascination with the paravent:
“The screen creates its own mysterious space. Behind it, you find a hidden world but it also provides security and shelter”
All of the works that make up the exhibition were all painted by the artist during his recent residency in Cape Town. The artist’s fascination with mythology, symbolism and folklore is reinforced by the captivating stories that each of his pieces tell, as well as the depth that they have. The conveying of these stories at the exhibition have been carefully and skillfully curated to the point where the works have been grouped in pairs to bring conformity to each theme.
Date: 25 April to 12 July 2018
Times: Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm | Saturday 10am – 2pm
Address: Southern Guild Gallery | GUILD, Shop 5B, Silo 5, V&A Waterfront