12th Oct 2009 - 31st Oct 2009

Bejewelled Mosaics

Olaf Van Cleef

Bejewelled Mosaics:

Olaf Van Cleef ’s visual text is an eloquent blend of lucid lines and elegant compositions that do not stop at the border of classics but enables him to recognize the seeds and buds of new life among signs of  decay. He first visited India as a minstrel and the love has grown and endured. His gouache’s on paper creates for the eye a treat of the visual and literary, and on another level a visual engagement with life.  It is to the artist’s credit that, while eschewing the rigid limitations imposed by ideological tenets, he has nevertheless retained an honest and concerned humanity.  Possibilities rather than to specificities of form and their impositions, Olaf carries out his work in mosaic forms, uses real jewels that acts a direct application of his lifestyle and meditates upon the pictorial plane.

In his ongoing pursuit he mainly paints in gouache on paper to arrive at a fuller expression. Along with he uses Swarowski crystals, gold and silver foils. He creates an imaginary world substitutes the external one translating feeling and emotions into a visual language. We shuttle between the different spaces ( read culture), dividing into partisan, watching selves as we do: each mode captures an aspect of the idea, and the complementary versions overlap. It is evident in the fact he uses light and keeps the source as a revelation of some kind of the spiritual. It becomes apparent viewing his work that Olaf enjoys solitude for his painting which awakens and takes its shape in silence

The nature he adopts or supermatism rarely commands the space, they filter, and they intuit. Olaf recreates for the eye, in two dimensions, something of the pleasurable hindrances of a winding progress through Nature. At the last moment, a few touches of bright colour are added: earlier they would have threatened the tone of an essential eclectic exercise. In one painting a foliage diffuse and atmospheric overlay the entire painting, a coarsely woven veil of branches at once dark and shining. It is a perilous moment. The artist is intoxicated by the degree to which his own powers can enter the serene landscape, can alter, withhold, made precious the clear view beyond, which they are in danger of shutting off forever.

Olaf’s ability to conjure up experience and mask them through faces and the shape and weight of lines and rhythms of composition are eloquent. One senses a working out of pictorial conventions, of attitudes and of free associations that swivel between dream and reality. The work has an exuberant narrative quality, as figures, both wraiths like and robust, take on symbolic weight as they get filtered through liquid swells and flows of lines. His work provides a salutary reminder that identity is always multivalent. One of his drawings has fragments of evocative concerns because what it does not only reveal but provides instead a wholly indigenous renewal of “self”. He attempts to set up a dialogue between our obsessions and private associations. His text can be read as an allegory of the artist’s calling. His performers all shackled on stage, with torture instruments visible in the wings of spirituality.

Olaf’s art practice aims to transcend boundaries imposed by geographies and cultural desire, a practice that dwells in a space free from all bondage to the visible, definite and the finite-most spare and ascetic, referring to his inner world he made in consummate bursts of energy in defined periods of time. The poetic and structural sign of another immersion in an essentially fluid domain will take us a step further in the exploration of Olaf Van Cleef’s ingenious future meditations. We do not have much comfortable equivalences around us. We do not have much comfortable equivalences around us. We are left purer and warmer for the viewing as we harvest our desires and paint our own testaments.

Nanak Ganguly.
September, 2009.