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Erwin Olaf solo exhibition at Galerie XII in Los Angeles

Erwin Olaf, “Kammerballett I,” 2022. Courtesy of Studio Erwin Olaf

Thu, Feb 16 - Sun, May 28  2023

Opening reception: Saturday, February 18, 2023, 4-6 PM

Galerie XII is proud and happy to announce the first exhibition of Erwin Olaf on the West Coast, opening February 15, 2023 during Frieze week. Considered as the most important Dutch photographer of his generation, Olaf is celebrated for his bold and sometimes controversial approach. His practice centers around society’s marginalized individuals, including women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Erwin Olaf, Gross Fuge – I, 2022. Courtesy of Studio Erwin Olaf

In 2022, Olaf decided to celebrate the 90th birthday of his longtime friend, the choreographer Hans van Manen, with a stunning series of photographs entitled Dance In Close-Up. Together, they selected specific moments from van Manen’s iconic choreographies and captured details. Olaf shows us body fragments, arched backs, contracted muscles, bent toes, pointed fingers…

Erwin Olaf, Kleines Requiem – VI, 2022. Courtesy of Studio Erwin Olaf

But of course, being in Los Angeles, Galeri XII also had to include some images from his iconic body of work Palm Springs (2018). There are pools and bankers, soldiers and girls, and the incredible light of the desert, references to the California dream. Yet Olaf’s eye goes beyond the cliché to induce the idea that maybe the dream is not there anymore.

Erwin Olaf, The Kite, 2018. Courtesy of Studio Erwin Olaf

About the artist

Erwin Olaf was born in 1959 in Hilversum, The Netherlands, and currently works and lives in Amsterdam. Olaf is an internationally exhibiting artist whose diverse practice centers around society’s marginalized individuals, including women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019 Olaf became a Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands after 500 works from his oeuvre were added to the collection of the Rijksmuseum. Taco Dibbits, Rijksmuseum director, called Olaf “one of the most important photographers of the final quarter of the 20th century”.

In 2018, Olaf completed a triptych of monumental photographic and filmic tableaux portraying periods of seismic change in major world cities, and the citizens embraced and othered by their urban progress. Like much of his work, it is contextualized by complex race relations, the devastation of economic divisions, and the complications of sexuality. Olaf has maintained an activist approach to equality throughout his 40-year career after starting out documenting pre-AIDS gay liberation in Amsterdam’s nightlife in the 1980s.

A bold and sometimes controversial approach has earned the artist a number of prestigious collaborations, from Vogue and Louis Vuitton, to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. He served as the official portrait artist for the Dutch royal family in 2017, and designed the national side of the euro coins for King Willem-Alexander in 2013. He has been awarded the Netherlands’ prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award, as well as Photographer of the Year at the International Color Awards, and Kunstbeeld magazine’s Dutch Artist of the Year.

Erwin Olaf has exhibited worldwide, including Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Málaga, Spain; Museu da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo, Brazil; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago, Chile. In the spring of 2019, Olaf’s work was the subject of a double exhibition at Kunstmuseum The Hague and The Hague Museum of Photography, as well as a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Center of Photography and an exhibition at The Rijkmuseum of Amsterdam. In 2021, he will mount solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle München, Germany; the Suwon Museum of Art, Suwon, Korea. Olaf’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, such as the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum, both in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, United States; Art Progressive Collection, United States, and the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia.

About Galerie XII

Galerie XII, founded by Valerie-Anne Giscard d’Estaing in 2007 in Paris focuses on contemporary photography. The editorial line of the gallery centers on narrative photography and strives to promote artists with a strong pictorialist sensibility, working on new forms of the media with a multidisciplinary approach especially at the borders with painting, sculpture and collages. Galerie XII Los Angeles opened in 2018 and is located at Bergamot Arts Center, Santa Monica. Since its opening, the gallery has received critical acclaim and consistently showcases several solo exhibitions a year while also participating in multiple internationally-renowned art fairs

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