Beauty and Exploration with Olaf Hajek
Just last week the art world was still shaking the blur out of its eyes after a strong showing at Art Basel Miami. Artists and brands convened on the city from all over the world, including Olaf Hajek who participated in a secret dinner with Patron for invited guests that we can’t really talk about.
What we can talk about, and what we did talk about, is what Olaf has been up to, his thoughts on creative industries, and what he’s currently exploring in his work.
All the artists on our roster came to art for the love of creation. But art is also business, and that’s what we do at B&A: connect artistry to commerce. For some artists it can be a transition to find and fill the space between those two seemingly disparate worlds. Olaf sees the confusion, but has been able to bridge it himself. “The market is always telling you what to do and what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not,” explains Olaf. “For example in Germany it’s always this thing that you have to be an illustrator or you have to be an artist. It’s a snobbishness about it. And nobody understands it. When you look at the [Art Basel] today and you see all these booths, you see all this work that has a very illustrative character, on the other hand you see of course something that has nothing to do with illustration. Who tells me which is art? Which is illustration? This whole idea is something you have to break at the roots.”
Olaf just came off a massive exhibition in Germany that explored Bavarian history and the hidden self, and is gearing up for two more shoes in Spain and South Africa – all while fitting illustration work in the brief pauses. No matter what Olaf is working on there are a few through lines that he always zeroes in on. “The idea is birth, death, evanescence, all these things can play around these ideas and paintings. Also when it comes to illustrating an article and illustrate a cover or a story you can play with your own little symbols,” explains Olaf. “And of course there’s always this surreal aspect. Then I like to combine it with something, it could be a flower, it could be a mask. So I’m playing around with these things and I’m trying to always see something that has a simple for and work it out in a more sophisticated way.” Of course, like every artist, Olaf is always kicking around specific ideas. As much as life and death and energy are always evident in all of his work, there’s one major theme he never stops working on: beauty.
“This imperfection of beauty which I always love. This is the main idea of my paintings. On the one hand people think it’s so beautiful, but then they look a little bit closer and they see something more,” says Olaf. “There’s always some mystery behind beauty. I can’t stand pure beauty; it’s boring. It’s not interesting. Perfection is boring. There are a lot of people who don’t want anything but perfection, I don’t belong with them. I really don’t think that is the way to go.”
Perfection is inhuman, and what Olaf displays from piece to piece, what all good art does, is explore what it is to be human. We don’t need any perfection in a conversation about humanity.