14 March - 1 June 2013
WHATIFTHEWORLD is pleased to present Strange Flowers, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Olaf Hajek. Olaf Hajek is a painter immersed in a world of surreal fantasy and melancholic beauty. Drawing from diverse references such as 60’s African studio photography, renaissance perspective and the Dutch still lifes of the 1600s his work is underpinned by the colour and texture of folkloric imagery.
Strange Flowers, Hajek’s most recent body of work is a hypnotic tangle of botanical forms and colour. Rendered in acrylic on wood panels, Hajek uses distressed and exquisitely fine mark-making to create a rich surface patina. Woven into the fabric of the work the image of the flower is used as a seductive yet contradictory metaphor for fertility, poison, growth and decay.
Much like the Dutch painters of the 16–18th century his work looks at the brevity of life through capturing the vital essence of living forms and the continuing struggle for life where beauty is made more precious because of its transience. Through juxtaposing the human figure with his incandescent kaleidoscope of flora and fauna Hajek looks at humanities fragile relationship with nature and its cycles of birth and death.
Olaf Hajek is currently one of the most internationally renowned and sought-after illustrators and visual artists. His stylistically unique work 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 exhibitions in London, Berlin, New York, Atlanta, and Buenos Aires. This is Hajek’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, and many of the paintings were produced during the course of a recent Artists’ Residency in Cape Town. The exhibition will be accompanied by his second major monograph titled ‘Black Antoinette’ published by Gestalten.