Paravent by Olaf Hajek, presented in collaboration with WHATIFTHEWORLD, is the internationally renowned German painter’s third solo show in Cape Town. 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).
A technically perfect illustrator, Olaf creates enchanting visual patterns, scenes and creative characters in which nature and artifice are intertwined. He 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 were all painted by Olaf during a recent residency in Cape Town. 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.