Erwin Olaf (NL, 1959) and his art implicitly visualises the unspoken, the overlooked, which typically resists easy documentation. Olaf's trademark is to address social issues, taboos and bourgeois conventions within the framework of a highly stylised and cunning mode of imagery. With the aid of his razor-sharp aesthetic intuition, Olaf purposely conceals his themes so that the viewer unconsciously and initially accepts the concealment found in his photo series. Yet in the end, his unconventional style never fails to deliver dramatic visual and emotional impact. Mixing photo journalism with studio photography, Olaf emerged on the international art scene in 1988, when his series Chessmen was awarded the first prize in the Young European Photographer competition.
In his new series Shanghai, Olaf aims to deconstruct the complicated inner thoughts of young Asians dealing with expansionism. The portraits and scenes can be understood as his impression of the everlasting but declining significance of kinship ties and the power of patronage.