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 depicts 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 were 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.
Olaf Hajek was born in Rendsburg, Germany in 1965. After he finished his degree in graphic design at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, he moved to Amsterdam and began to work as a freelance artist. Olaf primarily lives and works in Berlin, but travels frequently and is represented by an agency on nearly every continent. His stylistically unique illustrations can be seen in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian and Vogue as well as on stamps for Great Britain’s Royal Mail. His personal work has been exhibited in solo shows in Hamburg, Berlin, Atlanta, Cape Town and Buenos Aires.Artists Page