CONTEMPORARY CZECH PHOTOGRAPHY
…There is, however, still another kind of diaries; their records are irregular, and the pictures come forward as if traced. Recorded instances are quiet and empty. Spaces and moments “in between” gradually come to a full meaning by what didn’t happen and what could have happened. We keep these diaries so we will forget about what was not important.
Lucia L. Fiserova
“Let’s Go, Katja!
or A World that didn’t happen but could have happened.”
Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery explores new Eastern European photography from the Czech Republic. This group exhibition represents the trends of photography entrenched in a region that has a strong history in the visual arts.
In the period of Modernism (between the wars WWI + WWII), film, photography and painting flourished in Europe. Prague became an art center that rivaled Paris and
Berlin. The Czech avant-garde created new ways of seeing light, objects, and moments in time.
Modernist artists Joseph Sudek (1896-1976) and Frantisek Drtikol (1883-1961) both influenced the work of Milan Fano Blatny, Igor Malijevsky, and Vojtech V. Slama. Each of these young artists chose traditional formats in black and white. Each draw from moments in time that question our visual perception. Objects transcend beauty and pauses in time offer surreal lyrical compositions.
Photo montage, photograms, and multiple exposures were used frequently by the CzechModernists. This can be seen as an influence in the photograms by Gabriela Kolcavova. Her spare images of hair gathered from friends become expressive compositions of line.
The emergence of the Czech Republic from the Iron Curtain has opened the door to the west. Traditions have been broken as seen in the work of Hana Jakrlova. Her rich color photographs reveal a twisted new internet business. Hana documents people having free sex with prostitutes only by promising to be filmed in the act for pay-per-view websites. Her graphic images of these almost comical amateurs
offer a trend in photography that is possibly more accepted in Europe than the U.S.
And finally, Evzen Sobek’s portraits of vacationers at a waterfront reveal another trend in contemporary portraiture. Sobek’s subjects hold large fish, posing in their skimpy bathing suits, or emerge from water like sea creatures, covered in plant debris. This use of portraiture to celebrates the subject performing common pastimes as seen in earlier work by Neal Slavin (1941,American born), an artist that PDNB Gallery currently represents.
All artists in this group exhibition reveal exciting directions in photography from this region and the overall movement in the art world.
Sandy Skoglund, Patients and Nurses, 1982