curator: Wim van SinderenThe comprehensive, large-scale exhibition of Erwin Olaf, Dutch photo artist and experimental film-maker can be seen for the first time in Hungary in MODEM. The centre will introduce a representative photo and video selection from the artist whose works were represented in several exhibitions and who is also known as the designer of the Dutch Euro coin. The curator of the exhibition is Wim van Sinderen, the director of The Hague Museum for Photography.
Olaf’s works with their perfect compositions, scenic and striking design vividly capture the essence of our everyday life. His unconventional style never fails to deliver dramatic visual and emotional impact. Most of his images are made in his large studio in Amsterdam, assisted by a host of decorators, make-up artists and hair stylists. The set up interiors present a slice of the real world. Olaf prefers his own dream-world to the real one; he translates the happenings of the external world and the taboos of society to his unique visual language. His photos implicitly visualises the unspoken, the overlooked, that typically resists easy documentation. At the first glance, Olaf seems to act more like a stage director than a photographer, every image is as carefully blocked as a film sequence.
The world famous photographer was born in 1959 in Hilversum and he still lives in Holland, in Amsterdam. He began his career under the patronage of Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton and Joel-Peter Witkin. 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. He already started working with film in 1987, that continued to be an important medium of his art. Often these films provide a parallel history to his coloured photographs; in his exhibitions he completes his series with the matching movies for arousing stronger impact. In the past years Olaf's films have been screened at several leading museums and film festivals all around the world. He won numerous international art and media prizes, such as Photographer of the Year in the International Colour Awards in 2006. In 2008 he received a Lucie Award from the United States of America for his achievements in photography. In 2011 he won the most prestigious Dutch State price of the Arts, Johannes Vermeer Award. His works are collected by many significant museums and private collectors are willing to pay more than ten thousand dollars for a picture. As the most known Dutch photographer, he shot the gala pictures of the heirness, Maxima Princess on her 40st Birthday.
The sophisticated and provocative style of Erwin Olaf conquered the advertisement world too, from the 90s he is considered to be one of the most popular commercial photographers. Louis Vuitton commissioned Olaf for a portrait series in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and he shot the campaign for luxury fashion brand, Bottega Veneta in 2012.
The visitors of MODEM will gain an insight to the peculiar world of the Dutch photographer. MODEM will be the very first exhibition space in the Eastern European region that will represent such a wide selection from the oeuvre of Erwin Olaf.
An explicit goal of the exhibition is also to bring Dutch contemporary art closer to the public and give them the chance to be able to immerse in the world of Dutch photo art.
curator: Wim van Sinderen