The acrylic paintings in this new body of work depict still-lives, interiors, portraits and landscapes, whose theatricality is heightened by the recurring motif of a folding screen (“paravent” in French).
“The screen creates its own mysterious space. Behind it, you find a hidden world but it also provides security and shelter,” Olaf explains.
A technically perfect illustrator, he creates enchanting visual patterns, scenes and creative characters in which nature and artifice are intertwined. Olaf collects mental images everywhere he goes: on his travels, in magazines, or on the internet. African traditions, Indian temple art, South American folklore, and pop culture are all expressed in new ways in his almost surreal tableaux. He plays with motifs of flora and fauna, archaic symbols and current themes, working them all into his pieces in great detail and vibrant colour.
The works on show are all painted by Olaf during a recent residency in Cape Town, which he calls his “second home and addiction”. Grouped in pairs, they tell different stories that reference myths, folklore and dreams. The Big Globe, for example, is inspired by old taxidermy objects but here the birds have come to life as they try to escape the threat of a snake. In its partner painting, Departure, all the decorative elements come to life as they embark on an unknown journey.
Paravent opens on 25 April 2018 at The Southern Guild Gallery in Cape Town.