Volker Olij was born on Curaçao in 1951 and grew up in Nigeria. At the age of ten, he moved to Holland, where he still lives. 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 has had many successful exhibitions of his paintings in, for example, the Netherlands, France, Italy and the UK. His 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 a way that together they almost become one larger shape. It creates an internal tension on the one hand and silence on the other – a silence that makes the works immensely contemplative.
By keeping the composition relatively frugal, never adding too much, the objects are given breathing space which emphasises their beauty, even when the object is an oil can or a battered enamel bowl. For some years Olij has brought his compositions back to an even greater 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 a step or two before his works turn into completely abstract works.