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Olij was born on Curaçao and grew up in Nigeria. At the age of ten, he came to Holland, where he’s still living. After high school Olij studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and the Kunsthochschule in Cologne (Germany). However, Olij did not present himself as a painter until the year 2000.
In the last decade Olij has rapidly become one of the most sought after realist artists and he had many successful exhibitions of his paintings in for example the Netherlands, France, Italy and the UK. And for many years his works were also shown at the TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht).
Olij’s paintings can be found in private, public and museum collections in the UK, the USA, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands amongst others.
Volkert Olij’s paintings vibrate with stillness. The carefully chosen objects are placed in composition in such way that together they almost become one larger shape. It creates an internal tension on one hand and silence on the other. A silence that makes the works immensely contemplative.
By keeping the composition relatively sparse, never adding too much to it, the objects are given
breathing space which emphasises their beauty, even when the object is an oil can or a battered enamel bowl.
Since some years Olij has brought back his compositions to an even bigger simplicity: instead of highly concentrated compositions with a few objects, his paintings now often show only one single object, enlarged to a ‘larger than life’ format. In these works ‘still life’ is paired down to the very essential.
Although Olij’s objects are intrinsically recognisable, they are also chosen for their abstract qualities. Their geometric essence divides the space, creating a figurative abstraction. It will probably only take one step or two before his works turn into completely abstract works.