A Journey through Worlds of Colors and Cultures
He is a magician of colors, a virtuoso illustrator and storyteller, a fan of fairytales and fables – or does he simply bring them all together?
From flora and fauna and mythical creatures to rich baroque colors and opulent flower and fruit arrangements, Olaf Hajek celebrates things that you simply have to worship. Confidently following in the footsteps of still life painters while dusting off the morbidity of the baroque idea, he is the perfect illustrator and storyteller. His images are dense and full of possibilities to make innumerable discoveries in the details. His colors are so vivid, an absolutely inexhaustible palette of hues, that you feel as if submerging into a world of scents and sensations.
Internationally renowned publications such as Architectural Digest, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, and Gourmet as well as the Los Angeles Times, New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Stern commission his work.
The northern German’s style is a complex historical puzzle: sometimes you may think to have discovered remnants of seventeenth-century German botanic artist Sybille Merian, other times the rich and almost naïve folk palette of Russian lacquer boxes and Matryoshka dolls.
Hajek juggles graphic and illustrative elements like an acrobat of modernity in his congenial and contemporary reconfigurations of the well-known. Little extras like a gentle hand, which resembles an Indian temple dancer, holds a bouquet of blossoms that recalls Dutch genre painting. It is no wonder that he can move so fluidly between cultures: he studied graphic design in both New York and London and travels frequently.
His collection of images – fabric patterns, Gobelins, magic books, and portfolios as well as the internet – is the source for his visual dance. He never copies but rather draws from the abundance of rituals and cultures so prevalent in our global world and yet so often overlooked and excluded.
In this sense, Hajek is a global frontier runner who transcends clichés and judgments and samples from the abundance cultures have to offer. But he is, above all, an expert at his métier who creates new visual patterns, scenarios, and creative portraits and characters to enchant us.
1965 born in Rendsburg, Germany
Studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Lives and works in Berlin, London, and New York
2004 LeadAward Silver
2004 LeadAward Gold
2003 Silver Award, Art Directors Club Germany
2003 Gold Award, Art Directors Club Europe
2003 Silver Award UK
Black Antoinette: The Work of Olaf Hajek. R. Klanten, H. Hellige, and Olaf Hajek, Berlin, 2012.
Short Dark Oracles. Sara Levine and Olaf Hajek, Kearney, Nebraska, USA, 2011.
Flowerheads: The Illustrations of Olaf Hajek. Olaf Hajek, Berlin, 2010.