Olaf & Kerstens

Erwin Olaf and Hendrick Kerstens

24 Aug –
7 Oct 2018

Erwin Olaf and Hendrik Kerstens are internationally renowned contemporary photographers from the Netherlands. While each artist draws inspiration from the work of the Dutch Masters, their subject and approach to photography is very different.

Erwin Olaf is an interdisciplinary artist who works across photography, video and installation. His work has been described as provocative and unsettling. Through portraits that emulate the style of the Dutch masters, Olaf scrutinizes societal frictions and the individuals affected, and draws the viewer into his surreal, filmic narrative, while maintaining the distance of the critical observer.

Olaf is represented in many international collections and has had solo exhibitions at Bilbao Art Centre, the Modern Art Gallery in Bologna, Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Unlike Olaf, Hendrik Kerstens did not train formally as an artist. In 1995, at the age of forty, he retired to care for his young daughter Paula and took up photography while his wife Anna continued to work. Raising a child had a deep impression on Kerstens and photography allowed him to explore his feelings of responsibility, vulnerability and love that he felt towards his daughter. Early portraits of Paula focused on everyday life with a young child, but as Paula grew physically and psychologically, Kerstens searched for an artistic manifestation of these changes, leading to his interpretations of the great Dutch master painters of the 17th century with Paula as his muse.




The Cairns Art Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased persons in photographs, film or text.