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Background Information about Olaf Hajek
Olaf Hajek is a magician with colours, a virtuoso illustrator and a storyteller. His Flowerheads are brimming with details just waiting to be discovered. Using rich colours, he creates enchanting worlds atop women’s heads. These mystical “hairstyles” spark the imagination.
The Flowerheads series combines the art of portrait and still-life painting to make something that has never been seen before. Hajek gives us a glimpse into the way other cultures think, and while the individual components are very familiar, their unique arrangement makes them feel foreign. In Hajek’s surreal compositions, narratives grow and secrets bloom.
With his almost surreal approach, Olaf Hajek brings the world of fables and floral splendour back into our consciousness. The illustrator with a predilection for flowers draws from a rich treasure trove of experience, which he continues to expand through his many travels.
In his work, you just as likely to discover references to the floral art of the 18th century as to the folksy palette of Russian lacquer painting. Or perhaps you will find a delicate hand resembling that of an Indian temple dancer holding a bouquet of flowers reminiscent of a Dutch genre painting… Olaf Hajek plays with stylistic and illustrative elements from different eras and cultural origins, using the well-known in a contemporary and ingenious way.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
The New York Times, The Guardian, Forbes, Rolling Stone, Süddeutsche Magazin, and Stern are just a few of the publications whose pages have been graced with Olaf Hajek’s work. Stylistically, the illustrator has his finger on the detailed and flowery pulse of the times, which has brought him international success. He describes his own style as “the imperfection of beauty”.
Olaf Hajek was born in Rendsburg, Germany in 1965. After he finished his degree in Graphic Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, Hajek moved to Amsterdam and began to work as a freelance artist. His first assignment came from Dutch Playboy, which was, at the time, a classic magazine known for its illustrations. The rest is a global success story. Olaf Hajek primarily lives and works in Berlin, but travels frequently and is represented by an agency on nearly every continent.
As an illustrator, Olaf Hajek learned to bring words to life with his pictures. However, when this master of fantastical drawing is given full creative reign, it would be entirely superfluous to accompany his pictures with words. Hajek is a storyteller and a global border-crosser. He transcends clichés and prejudices, and samples from diverse cultural pools until he finds access into a new world.
An “image collector”, Olaf Hajek creates extraordinary concepts from everything he discovers: on his travels, in magazines, or on the internet. African traditions, Indian temple art, South American folklore, and pop culture are all expressed in new ways in his pieces. His style is extremely recognisable. Hajek plays with motifs of flora and fauna, with archaic symbols and current themes, working them all into his pieces in great detail and splendid colour. Above all else, he is a technically perfect illustrator; he creates new visual patterns, scenes, and creative portraits and characters that enchant all those who behold them.
Everyone who paints a flower, paints a flower, but he does not actually know what mysteries it holds. Nature just fascinates me.
Studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Lives and works in Berlin, London, and New York
2004 LeadAward Gold
2003 Silver Award, Art Directors Club Germany
2003 Gold Award, Art Directors Club Europe
2003 Silver Award UK
|2021||E Jardín del Explorador, Gallery Kaplan Projects, Palma de Mallorca, Spain|
|2020||Paradiese, Museum Haus Löwenberg, Gengenbach, Germany|
|2018||Paravent, Southern Guild Gallery Cape Town, South Africa|
|2017||Au Marché, Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery Berlin, Germany|
|2016||Jäger und Sammler, Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery Berlin/ Munich, Germany|
Green Room, Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
|2015||Precious, Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery Berlin/ Hamburg, Germany|
|2013||Life, Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery Berlin, Germany|
Strange Flowers, Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
|2012||The King has lost his Crown, Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery Berlin, Germany|
|2011||Werft 2, AJL ART Berlin, Germany|
Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
|2010||Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta USA|
Flowerhead, Direktorenhaus, Berlin
|2020||Dark Patterns, Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany|
|2014||Lieber Künstler, zeichne mir, Semjon Contemporary, Berlin, Germany|
|2012||Black Antoinette, Gestalten Space, Berlin, Germany|
|2009||Illustrative 09, Berlin, Germany|
|2008||Maskerade, Galerie Johanssen, Berlin, Germany|
|2007||Illustrative 07 Paris, France|
BBAX07, Buenos Aires, Argentina
|2004||NOTANGO, Berlin, Germany|
From concept to creation: How do you approach your work?
The ideas forms as an image in my head.
I sometimes create a rough sketch through simple strokes, but the true process begins on the canvas. I start with a colored background, to which I add a structure and patina.
This process gives rise to further ideas and distinctive shapes begin to arise.
What color should I incorporate and which shape should I start wth?
This initial decision often determines the outcome of the composition.
What’s your favorite book?
A small, now tattered, book on ancient Korean art that has inspired me for years.
Which artist would you like to have coffee with and what would you discuss?
I would choose to meet Peter Doig. We would discuss light, color, patience, impatience, passion, and each other's perspective of beauty.
How did you interest in art develop?
I discovered art as a child and knew I found something special – because passion is the greatest gift of all.
Who in your life influences you the most?
If you had a time machine, where would you travel?
1970s New York.
What is your greatest passion – aside from art?
Literature and cooking.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just opened a solo exhibition in Palma de Mallorca and I'm also working on a new picture book for Prestel Verlag.