For a number of years, Olaf Holzapfel has been working simultaneously with various media. He has created series of digital images, acrylic glass sculptures and architectural models. In recent years he has produced large wooden structures, pictures made out of hay or straw, textile works and cinematic works. At Art Cologne we would like to juxtapose two groups of works – the foldings and the hay pictures – to show the vastness of the cosmos spanned by Olaf Holzapfel's work, to render it tangible and perceptible that despite all its openness and heterogeneity it is always the human dimension which serves as a point of departure in the artist’s work.
Holzapfels Faltungen (foldings) are made of materials such as PVC, polycarbonate and acrylic and are produced in close co-operation with his studio assistants. The basis of each work is a flat-surface piece of synthetic material – a module, so to say – that is heated in the oven and is, for the duration of a few minutes, shapeable. For this period of time, Holzapfel develops a kind of choreography (previously tried and tested with paper), in which every person involved performs a step in the temporally sequential chain of action, which finally leads to the folding. What remains in the end is the cold, and hence static, product. The module becomes an object, which is habitually presented on a table-like pedestal. What is decisive is the realization of a plan and, just as important, the deviation from it – for each individual action is, in its execution, in a relative relation to the plan. The “human dimension” and chance – traditional factors in art history to some degree – give Holzapfel's works their accordingly incalculable form.
Similar forces come to play with the hay pictures: their production takes place in temporally sequential steps at a variety of geographical sites. First of all, farmers in the Lower Silesian / Greater Poland border region between Poland and Germany twist straw to form sturdy ropes, employing a cultural technique well-established in the region. Understood as a principle of serial labour, the technique, working on the organic materiality of the hay, introduces a priori a natural degree of deviation into the ropes so created, which are subsequently supplied to Holzapfel's studio. There, they are woven by the artist and his assistants around or into a prepared stretcher-frame and are subsequently coated partially in coloured Indian ink – monotonous production rhythms that congeal into a form of picture or image. By taking certain traditions seriously and demonstrating their agility and updatability, Holzapfel's work always reveals the very nature and constant changeability of our times.