In Dramatic Portraits and Genre Scenes, Erwin Olaf Complicates Conventions
At Art Brussels 2018 FLATLAND will present Erwin Olaf’s new series ‘Shanghai’ from 2017. The new scenography photographs are a follow up on his work ‘Berlin’ from 2012. Both works were shot on locations where one can strongly feel its history. In ‘Shanghai’ Olaf decomposes slightly the complicated inner thoughts of young succesful Asians dealing with today’s expansionism and economic growth. The portraits and scenes can be read as the beginning of the end of the everlasting significance of kinship ties and the power of patronage. For example if one studies internal details, a slow erosion of the old bonds is perceived. The cherry blossom flowers in vase are dropping, one by one.
Image rights: Erwin Olaf
Known primarily for producing lush, large-format color prints of staged scenes that suggest complex narratives, Erwin Olaf explores ideas of gender, sensuality, and history in studio photography and photojournalism. His series “Fashion Victims” (2000) offers commentary on the consumerism of sex and designer labels, while “Separation” (2003) portrays an introverted family in a sterile interior space. More recently, Olaf produced “Berlin”, a series of images shot at historical locations around the German capital, including at its Olympic Stadium, and featuring Aryan children performing authoritarian roles. Of the series, which hints obliquely at Berlin’s troubled past, he has said, “I want the viewer to come up with their own story and create his or her fantasy.” Olaf has also produced film and video installations, and has photographed advertising campaigns for international companies such as Levi’s and Microsoft.
Dutch, b. 1959, Hilversum, Netherlands, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands