Erwin Olaf is an Amsterdam-based photographic artist, famous for his daring and provocative work. He has exhibited around the world, including at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York, the Bilbao Art Centre and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and has won numerous international art and media prizes. His images are a little like the photographic equivalent of a still life: carefully crafted and painstakingly designed to create an atmosphere.
"I shared my studio for a long time with a figurative painter and I was very jealous," he said in an interview with The National to mark the opening of his current Dubai show, High Tension. "You have two or three layers in painting and I wanted to know how I could achieve that."
Olaf, who was born in the Netherlands in 1959 and studied journalism at the Utrecht School of Journalism, is also well known for his commercial work, notably advertising campaigns for Diesel Jeans (for which he won the Silver Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival), Lavazza, BMW, Microsoft and Nintendo. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine and Elle.
His highly stylised and perfectly conceived scenes draw the viewer in, even to settings that on the face of it appear mundane. You are keen to know what has happened, what has just been said and what is about to happen.
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