“High Tension” not only gives an overview of Erwin Olaf’s ouevre of photographs, spanning almost 30 years, but also highlights his distinct individualistic style. Erwin Olaf’s exploration of issues like gender, sex, despair and grace, are humorous and tragic, both metaphysical and hyper-realistic. By confronting his subjects with perfectionist settings, and the element of chance that comes in form of the model’s ephemeral expression, the works conserve a form of tension, a potential energy that goes beyond the paradigm of photography.
“High Tension” is not a common photo exhibition: not afraid of social issues and taboos, the visual drama and the emotional impact wind each other up and up in a trademark ‘Olafian’ way.
With his unique mix of photojournalism and studio photography, Olaf made his first impression on the international art scene in 1988, when he won the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition with his series “Chessmen”. Since then, he has been featured in countless exhibitions all over the world, and has received many prestigious awards such as Photographer of the Year in the International Colour Awards in 2006. Most recently, the Lucie Award for his entire oeuvre, and the Johannes Vermeer Award 2011, the Dutch National State Prize for the Arts.
Erwin Olaf, b.1959 in Hilversum, The Netherlands, lives and works in Amsterdam. He has had numerous important group and solo exhibitions, nationally and internationally, including Exhibitions at George Eastman House, Rochester, USA; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Chelsea Art Museum, New York; Kunsthalle Winterthur, Switzerland; and the Museum of the City of New York.
Solo exhibitions include Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Bilbao Art Centre, Spain; Groninger Museum, The Netherlands; Monte Video, Amsterdam; Modern Art Gallery of Bologna, Italy; Museum of Modern Art, Moscow; The Hague Museum of Photography, The Netherlands; Photo Museum Antwerp, Belgium; Institut Néerlandais, Paris; Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spain; Hermitage, Amsterdam; and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Olaf’s works are in the collections of Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Central Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Groninger Museum, The Netherlands; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; FNAC Collection, Paris; Caldic Collection, Rotterdam; Rosenblum Collection, Paris; Orefa Collection, Paris.