Olaf Van Cleef’s love affair with India Swapan Mullick The Statesman Saturday, 28 October 2006
Twenty years ago, Olaf began his romance with Kolkata. “Here the people are educated and when they buy jewellery, they buy a style. They pick up a jewel as though it is a piece of art’’, says Olaf. His tryst with painting began when he was inspired by the “vibrant colours, the sounds, the sights, the smells and cultures of India’’ and decided to depict them through intricate designs.
By the time he held his first show in Chennai, it was clear that he was seeing artistry amidst dilapidation and beauty in sorrow. His works demonstrated a surge of freedom coming from within. It was at this time that he also discovered the spiritual qualities of India through the writings of Tagore and Aurobindo that were in his words, a “source of soothing delight to my chaotic and unconventional lifestyle’’.
Olaf’s art is an expression of love and a means of giving back to India what he has experienced with great delight. His January show of Indian images on metallic paper dotted with Swarovsky crystals is appropriately called The Jewelled Touch. It should present a world of mystic delights that has become the primary inspiration of Olaf’s art.