Monday, 22 March 2010

Flowerhead: The Illustrations of Olaf Hajek review

all images from Flowerhead: The Illustrations of Olaf Hajek, copyright Gestalten 2010

by Tommy Eugene Higson

So this is what we are interested in - what we like - when art and illustration become indistinguishable from one another, and we love Olaf Hajek , this is his first monograph and it is wonderful.

There are a wide variety of commercial and some personal works displayed here and they are inseparable, like Burgerman his work is so strong and unique that there is no need for artistic compromise. This is also a testament to "the artist" and the progression of art; a balancing and acceptance of both personal and commercial project being equally valid.

Unlike Burgerman however his work is a much more traditional easel painting practice, which is by no means a bad thing as his canvases are magical curiosities imbued with a profound knowledge and reference to African tribal art, Latin folk art, Japanese woodblock printmaking, Surrealism and even poster art.

There are also countless contemporary painters who Hajek can easily be alined with such as Ellen Gallagher, Laura Owens or Chris Ofili with their postmodern sampling and referencing indiscriminately combined with an outstanding draughtsman and application of paint, however his commercial projects and truly bridging the hi/lo gap set him apart.

There are not enough words to describe reading one of Olaf Hajek's paintings; folklore, myth and fantasy can play a big part of the decryption, but so can film, music and popular culture and again so can personal experience, which seems to be the key because after the fifth, tenth or twentieth viewing you are still discovering something new.

Available 31st March 2010 from anywhere good.

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