"‘The Dark Side’’
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ERWIN OLAF was born in 1959 in HILVERSUM, Holland, and lives and Works in Amsterdam.
This incomplete biography is however essential to understand the present work of this atypical artist : that of a generation of creators influenced by MAPPLETHORPE, AVEDON or HANS VON MAANEN, his fellow countryman, by The Netherlands as home of the golden age painters (REMBRANDT, VERMEER and 17th century masters) and by neighboring Flanders surrealists, from MAGRITTE to DELVAUX.
Madness beneath the appearance of calm.
He won the Prize for Young European Photographers in 1988.
His work during the 80s is usually remembered by its provocative homoeroticism, androgyny and a use of square framing, in the style of MAPPLETHORPE.
His first book, entitled "CHESSMEN", contains an entire world of eroticism, mythology and monstrosity, reminiscent of JOEL-PETER WITKIN, symbolic and at times obscure, belonging to him and him only.
He uses a paraphernalia of elk antlers, MAD MAX style leather boots, bodies painted in black, wreaths of artificial flowers. The direction for the 1990 "BLACKS" series is highly sexual, aesthetic, and shows an absolute mastership of light, with bodies sculpted and blind on black and silver backdrops.
In 2001, "PARADISE PORTRAITS" is pure hell.
ERWIN OLAF explores the theme of the clown in its scariest, almost criminal aspect, with portraits that reference emblematic HEAVY METAL musicians.
In 2002 "SEPARATION"
ERWIN looses his father and his bearings, goes to therapy and produces a series of 9 photos, a highly evocative outlet of his loss: a mother and child are dressed in black latex which isn't quite sexual but rather embodies the grief of losing a loved one, who is now gone forever.
2010's "DUSK" series is inspired by Afro-American culture of the early 20th century, an allusion to slavery in the united States, with gorgeous staging of sumptuous costumes, sets and lighting that recall 19th century classic paintings.
2011 "THE SIEGE AND RELIEF OF LEIDEN"
ERWIN won the VERMEER prize in 2011 with this monumental piece, also reflecting a dark period for the artist himself, and an homage to Flemish masters of chiaroscuro from CARAVAGGIO to REMBRANDT, VERMEER and the Dutch School...
A complete control of photographic material (composition, portraits, costumes and colors).
2012 "THE DARK SIDE" at the RABOUAN-MOUSSION gallery.
Erwin's themes change with the help of new technologies, his work doubled with a video installation entitled "KEYHOLE", on the topics of shame, voyeurism, secrecy, recalling passages of our own existence.
In his final two self-portraits, "TAR AND FEATHERS" he places himself center-stage in order to reaffirm his battle against homophobia.
Six series of photography and videos that convey a feeling of unease, a sophistication, a slowness in the midst of timeless background designed with the aesthetics of the 60s and 70s in mind.
Time stops, as in the films of ANTONIONI, RESNAIS, TARKOVSKI or KUBRICK, the strangeness of the sets reminds of P.JACKSON or DAVID LYNCH: a detail can kill.
The spectator becomes a voyeur and dives into a 4th dimension of fantasy, metaphysics and of banality at once weird and sublime.
In this way, ERWIN agrees with Flemish painters of the 17th century, the "silent" surrealists of the 30s and 50s.
ERWIN OLAF comes full circle - and the viewer's mouth is open, wide open in admiration.