Artists who paint gods and goddesses don’t often tell you that they have ‘bejewelled penises’ in the pipeline. But then again Olaf Van Cleef is no ordinary artist. “I am just in love with life,” he tells us over high tea at his presidential suite at the Taj Coromandel. And he adds, “That means you’ve got to come up with something new all the time...” Alright, we’ve heard that before, but how do penises find their way into the frame?
“The next collection I’m working on is for an exhibition in Bhutan,” the Dutch artist shares. And to get a feel of the place, Olaf who incidentally, is also a counsellor for Cartier, spent four days in Bhutan walking around and taking in the sights. “I came across these giant male genitals painted outside houses where the men had several children,” he says incredulously. There is a short pause. “Really?” One has to ask just to double check that we’re hearing this right.
So Olaf proceeds to show us a quick slide show on his digital notepad just to prove to us that he’s not joking. And as it turns out, the larger than life organ actually looks pretty aesthetic! As for the bejewelled bit, the artist tells us that he has been working with the most beautiful jewellery since 1982. “It’s in my blood,” he says. He goes on, “That’s why I’ve created so many paintings with Indian gods and goddesses. I can’t get enough of their jewellery!”
We are not sure what to expect with Olaf’s next collection, which he tells us will be ready by September next. But let’s just say curiosity will have us waiting rather impatiently.