174. Erwin Olaf
Hotel Kyoto, Room 211 (from Hotel) (2010)
Signed, dated 2010 and numbered 5/15 lower left
Signed, dated 2010 and numbered 5/15 on the reverse
C-print, 16.8 x 30.1 cm (image size) / 20.7 x 34.1 cm sheet size
Erwin Olaf is one of the most famous Dutch photographers and is known for his mastery of light and displaying a taste for the mysterious, unsettling, and surreal, which can also be seen in his Hotel series. In this photo series, single models pose in hotel guest rooms, surrounded by subtle differences that hint at the reason for or reaction to their isolation. Influenced by Olaf’s own travels and accompanying feelings of transience and anomie, the models gaze into the distance and evoke an uneasy, disconnected sense of mystery. “The Hotel series is about alienation and the subtle range of dark emotions that they can give a person. The hotel rooms that I sleep in when I am travelling are all different but the feeling that they give is the same, there is a certain disengagement that takes place” says Olaf.
The highly theatrical mise-en-scenes recall the early 1960s, underscored by a diluted colour palette. The cinematic nature reflects Olaf’s evolution as an artist: “The older I get, the more I start to realise that I am more influenced by cinema than by photography. Although there are big beautiful photographs, when you are going to the cinema, you can always make up your own story. You have more emotions. I never cry over a photo, but I cry over a movie, or music, or literature. That makes me a bit jealous, so I want to achieve that in my photography.”