Olaf Hajek





2012 - IMAGES 36

Olaf Hajek is a painterly illustrator with a penchant for hardcore fantasy and melancholic beauty. He revels in the complex simplicity of folkloric imagery, while at the same time addressing the heady issues of race and youth.

Olaf Hajek is currently one of the most internationally renowned and sought-after illustrators and visual artists. His stylistically unique work can be seen in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Vogue as well as on stamps for Great Britain’s Royal Mail. His personal work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Galleries worldwide.


“My idea was to create an image of luxury, opulence, and beauty, which has nothing to do with wealth and prosperity. I adapted the idea of Marie Antoinette and created a ‘Black Antoinette’ who is wearing the idea of the whole nature on her head—the beauty as well as the birth and death and the evanescence. Out of the first image I painted a whole series was born.”

BRIEF: My exhibition at Whatiftheworld Gallery in Cape Town.

MATERIALS: Wood, acrylic paint, paper, brushes and scraper.

RESEARCH: African images, Dutch old masters and travel.

RESISTANCES: Painting the big surface.

INSIGHT: The imperfection of beauty and the power of simplicity.


FINAL THOUGHTS: I think there is always a bit of the dark side in my paintings... the paintings can look beautiful, but I am glad if the beholder is taking a second look. I was offered a show in Cape Town at a gallery and I was using my impressions of Africa as a departure point for this series of new paintings. I tried to combine a sense of wonder inspired by the continents natural beauty with a darker look at its social and political reality.

Hajek Hajek