In celebration of Erwin Olaf’s outstanding oeuvre and his long collaboration with the gallery, Hamiltons London is presenting photographs of women from across Olaf’s career. Gallery owner Tim Jefferies has selected these works from Olaf’s oeuvre of 40 years, comprising photographs from such well known series like Chessmen (1987-88), Squares (1983-2018), Blacks (1990), Mature (1999), Fashion Victims (2000), Royal Blood (2000), Hope (2005), Grief (2007), Hotel (2010), Keyhole (2011-13), Vogue (2012), Berlin (2012), Jewish (2013), Waiting (2014), Catwalk (2015), Skin Deep (2015), Shanghai (2017) and Palm Springs (2018), and so encompassing women of all ages, skin tones, body shapes and attitudes.
Olaf believes that he can photograph women with more clarity than men, as without distractions he can be more precise in expressing his feelings. “With female talents I can be fairly critical and say exactly what I want them to do, whereas beautiful boys can throw stardust in my eyes… It is very inspiring to work with the sensitivity of women – I love the emotion that is layered under the skin and in the eyes and it is one of my joys to work with women in this way… They are my muses in my work.” (Erwin Olaf, 2019).
A selection of the works in the exhibition are vintage prints and have never been shown in a gallery setting before now, others are journalistic images, and early pictures comprising some of the first photographs Erwin Olaf took in his studio.
Beyond this, the exhibition reveals turning points in the artist’s work when he begins to shoot in colour, adopts carbon printing and explores new themes. Erwin Olaf emerged on to the international art scene in 1988 when he was awarded first prize in the Young European Photographer competition, closely followed by an award at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany.
In his early work, Olaf addressed subjects such as race, class, sexuality and beliefs, defining his own subjects and exploring these in black and white (Chessmen, Squares and Blacks) and in colour (Rain, Hope Grief, Dusk and Dawn). In more recent years he has been creating images that resemble paintings or cinematic scenes, adopting the role of director as well as photographer. Berlin, Shanghai and Palm Springs, a three-part project, looks at renowned cities undergoing seismic change in the modern world.
All Images courtesy Hamiltons Gallery, London // Palm Springs series – After the Bushfire, 2018, Chromogenic print, large format: edition of 10: 39 3/8 x 70 in. (100 x 177.8 cm.), small format: edition of 12: 23 5/8 x 42 in. (60 x 106.7 cm.) // Palm Springs series – The Family Visit , The Niece, 2018, Chromogenic print, large format: edition of 12: 46 7/8 x 35 1/4 in. (119 x 89.4 cm.), small format: edition of 15: 29 1/2 x 22 1/4 in. (75 x 56.4 cm.)
14 May through 16 August 2019