Galerie Wagner + Partner

Erwin Olaf

Homage to Berlin

9/6/2013 – 11/16/2013

For Homage to Berlin, Erwin Olaf visited seven locations around the capital and already this fact differentiates the series from his studio photographs. Each location, from the Olympic Stadium; the Schöneberg town hall, iconically associated with Kennedy's famous proclaimation, "Ich bin ein Berliner"; Clärchens Ballhaus; the old city hall in Klosterstraße; the Neukölln public bath house; a Westend fencing hall, to the interiors of a Freemasons lodge, is representative of a subjective aesthetic and historical significance.

The photographs with their perfectly composed atmospheric moods lead us into a bygone Berlin. We find ourselves in the 1920's of Franz Bieberkopf's sinister, violent and steadily growing metropolis or also in a city with an escalating National Socialism stronghold.
From this historically inspired viewpoint, Olaf gazes into the Berlin of today – known internationally as an unconventional, creative, young and free-spirited city.
As in all his photographs, Erwin Olaf works purposefully and precisely with light and skilfully masters the colour spectrum. With his painterly style of photography he also references the era of New Objectivity.

Nonetheless, the dark and cool precision of Olaf's photographs is irritating. Children on the edge of adulthood confront the viewer with domineering confidence. For Olaf, these children have more power over their world than the children of over a decade ago. Subliminally, these photographs unleash in us the feelings of a mounting, uncontrollable and sprawling power. In other roles, old women display the last of their appeal and in doing so, cannot hide their old age.

Succinct simulations of realities and intuitively built scenes allow for the remarkable tension in Erwin Olaf's imagery, which is bound to leave the viewer with as much discomfort as voyeurism.

Artist talk with Celina Lundsford (Fotografie Forum Frankfurt): Oct 11 at 7 pm.