The Early Years
Olaf Krassnitzky grew up in Vienna, Austria, where he obtained a medical degree in 1968, and qualified as a specialist in internal medicine. In 1974, he moved to Canada and lived first in Toronto; as of 1987 in Ottawa; and since 2008, in Clarence-Rockland, just east of Ottawa. In Canada, he held various healthcare positions until 1987. He obtained a Masters degree in anthropology from Carleton University in 1995, and then a PhD in sociology in 2000. In 2001, Olaf decided to follow in the footsteps of his father who had been a well-known artist in Salzburg, Austria and started a career in visual arts. Olaf has been interested in the arts from an early age. However, the only formal art education he received were two workshops in realist figure and portrait painting offered by the Realist Academy of Toronto in 2009.
Due to his specific academic background, Olaf is interested in the artistic representation of the human condition, in its social, technological and natural environments, and in the human 'inner environments': human sense-making of self, others and the environments, as well as actions governed by this sense-making. He agrees with the following statement by Karl Ruhrberg in "Art in the 20th Century': "Today, art no longer establishes guidelines, it seeks orientation; it no longer makes statements, it asks questions; questions about a reality growing ever complex, and about the role of art within this reality." Olaf believes that art should not communicate purpose and function. Art should communicate how artists and their audiences relate to the world they live in. Art does not solve problems, but it may help in developing aesthetic mindsets for problem solving: to overcome weaknesses in human decision making, as they arise from an exclusive reliance on paradigms of power and economic efficacy and efficiency. Art may also visually represent premonitions of 'times to come' as was the case, for instance, when the dissolution of the old world order before WWI became manifest in the form of abstract art. Recently, the human figure has been disappearing from visual art.
With this in mind, over the past ten years, Olaf has been pursuing three programs of work: the human figure and the portrait, urban landscapes, and a form of 'pop-surrealism' or magical realism. In addition, Olaf explores unusual techniques and subjects without following the contemporary trend in visual arts of over-emphasizing novelty. He does not wish 'the medium to become the message'.
Olaf's preferred media are oil, pastel and charcoal, mostly on canvas or board. He also works with collages and reliefs (concrete and plaster). Besides his realist training, his techniques have been influenced by Kandinsky, Klee, Schiele, Klimt, the Fantastic Realists of Vienna and, to a significant extent, by his father. Olaf has exhibited in many group shows in Ottawa and in Montreal including the following venues: The Ottawa Fine Art Festival (juried), Westport Fine Art Show (juried), Glebe Art in the Park (juried), Orleans Studio Tour (juried), and Artour of Prescott-Russell (juried). His works were also shown in the following galleries in Ottawa: the Cube, Gallery 7A, G. Becker Gallery, Electric Gallery, the Galleriart Co-op, Galerie de la Rive in Rockland, the Gallery in Irene's pub in Ottawa. Olaf had two solo shows — one at the Bruyere Gallery (2005) at the Elizabeth Bruyere Family Clinic in Ottawa, and the other at The Cumberland Gallery (2004), City of Ottawa. A few hundred of his works, including many portrait commissions, can be found in private collections in Canada.
The Forseeable Future
Olaf intends to focus on magical, fantastic, surreal themes, and if possible bring together other artists who work in these genres in Ottawa and to bring these art forms to the Ottawa viewing public. Currently the public is exposed mostly to versions of representational art, and alternatively to abstract art. There is room for imaginary art that can bridge the realism of representational art and the imagination in abstract art. Most recently, Olaf has been experimenting with visual polyphony, an analog of musical polyphony.