Erwin Olaf: Felix, 2008, Lambda Print, 141 x 106 cm
A short story - meaning short prose - tells of an incident showing a representative excerpt of the protagonists' life. The sudden start of the story is like jumping onto a moving train. The recounted events are compacted, the narrative clearly structured and the end is left open.
Wagner + Partner presents these narrative qualities in the works of Dutch artist Erwin Olaf. Olaf's first solo exhibition in Germany shows a selection of well known series of the last few years combined with a new video installation. With numerous international exhibitions and publications Erwin Olaf has been receiving international attention for years, because his works have a polarizing effect.
The provocation lies partly in their immediacy and intrusiveness with which the artist represents his sometimes erotically charged motifs. Beautiful women and magnificent rooms often reflect a glamorous, dreamlike world, in which dramas unfold at second glance. By means of consistent staging of interior and person Olaf narrates in series such as Hotel, Hope or Grief intense stories in cinematic ways.
This narrative style in photography, as can be found also in Jeff Wall or Gregory Crewdson, reminds us not by accident of the atmospheric scenes of Edward Hopper. Erwin Olaf ties in with Hopper's temporal, spatial and figurative representation in a calculated way. Olaf's photographs remind us furthermore of paintings bathed in light, such as those of Jan Vermeer, who masterfully portrayed women absorbed in domestic work. Erwin Olaf also dives into the flow of time and sets his stories in styles of different eras. At the same time his photographs bring to mind the momentary, the painful recognition of transience.
Erwin Olaf's train of Short Stories departs for the wild side of life. Don't miss it.