Olaf Hajek Breaks into the Third Dimension
Art is visual communication. It exists to translate ideas and feelings that transcend what words can do and do it with more efficiency. It is its own dialect, and can act as a language between those who do not already share one. The communicative properties of art came into stark relief for Olaf Hajek when he created a series of paintings for the South Korean Lotte World Mall in Seoul. A celebration of spring, Olaf's paintings feature flowers in bloom, rich grass islands, and flittering birds. The images are printed onto three-dimensional installations and cobbled together into sculptures that inhabit the space and bring a new world of this fresh season. Olaf doesn’t speak Korean, and his translator didn't speak German, so they found a primary common language of English but a fundamental common language of art. They were able to create five seasons of installations for the next year through a series of revisions and figurative interaction.
Since these pieces were going to be printed into 3D displays, Olaf had to provide the artwork in such a way that would be conducive to creating whatever sculptural elements Lotte would need. He painted each component independently. “I did every single element separately,” explains Olaf. “ The idea was to create a whole painting but every single element was painted on a separate layer.” Since they were creating the installations for five seasons, it ended up being an incredible volume of work. All in all, Olaf lost count of how many paintings he made for the final tally, but it was hundreds. To explain the breadth of the work, Olaf uses the island with the house on it: “There is this image of a little floating island, with green grass and a house. There’s a tree on it, there are birds, every single element is it’s own layer. If I count them together, every single blossom, every flower, I have no idea. I can’t count them." When you recognize that each insect and gem was painted independently and then composed together after the fact, it becomes an almost overwhelming prospect. But no trouble for Olaf, who has been working on the project for more than a year.
Since Olaf’s work is typically printed in two dimensions, this project represented a change of tack for him, but the work remains essentially the same. “I dealt with the season’s ideas but in kind of a magical fairytale type world,” says Olaf. The aesthetic is still his. If art is a form of communication, no matter what Olaf is building his language remains intact.