showcases evidence of the changes that occurred in Holešovice, located in Prague, that are displayed in his photographs. He does so because of a personal connection to this location formed in the past.
He is an observer of the vigorous change that the neighborhood is currently undergoing. He captures photographs of places that are transforming dynamically.
As the author states: „From the once authentical neighborhood infused with the magic of working-class periphery becomes a soulless city of spiritless offices and expensive residencies. I see, how the old Holešovice are disappearing right in front of my eyes and are taking on a new form. In my series Goodbye Holešovice, I attempted to capture a fragment of the old Holešovice as well as their current form, which seems foreign to me. With the same named book, I am parting with a period of my life and closing one of the photographic themes. Goodbye, Holešovice“.
13 years have passed since Lukáš Dvořák’s last exhibition in Leica Gallery Prague. He worked 13 years on his latest book of the same name which was published in 2021.The number 13 is essential for Lukáš Dvořák and accompanies him all his life.How else then to call his autumn cross-sectional exhibition which not only features his latest work, which is all displayed in large formats?
The number 13 seems to be fated for the photographer Lukáš Dvořák. Even though, his book “XIII” was published two years ago as a tribute to the many years of his artistic journey, the same named exhibition in Leica Gallery Prague was a pure coincidence. The name refers to the reality, that this is the author’s first exhibition after thirteen long years in his preferred gallery. While Lukáš Dvořák is a prominent and internationally recognized personality in the field of fashion photography, it is precisely the nude photography that became the subject of his free creation while also becoming his lifelong passion. It is his passion that drives him to constantly discover new perceptions of the reality that surrounds us. In his work, he always attempts to prioritize nature and the attempt to capture women in their purest form of beauty. He doesn’t only stick to the physical beauty and more so accents the mental beauty, as in the spirit of the Greek attempt to get closer to God. Every photo is the result of a persistent effort to find a sophisticated depth and certain expression, where the woman becomes the best version of herself. Nudity then becomes a reference to nature and the acceptance of one’s body, in which we can find balance, self-confidence, and relaxation. Together with the characteristical black and white composition of the photographs, that allow the audience to concentrate on the atmosphere of that given moment, the nudity shows a way to get the photos rid of the links to a specific time period. They therefore become intentionally temporally and spatially unanchored. Everything, including the details, the position of the fingers, shadows, or hair in motion must come together in perfect harmony. In addition to the choice of models and location, Lukáš’s creative process often includes his own imagination and a sort of conscious dreaming, during which he designs sets with unusual props. These include a medicine ball or wooden butterfly wings that he either buys or has custom-made. He constantly searches for inspiration in both the inner and outer world, connects them, and thus introduces new and improbable elements into the nudes. There are countless opportunities out in the universe, as he says. Everything we create already exists and we are only discovering it. Through small steps and experiments, Lukáš Dvořák constantly expands his horizons and set of styles with new possibilities and procedures. And so he is slowly fulfilling his work of a lifetime
Vojtěch Fiala, curator
Lukáš Dvořák (*1982 in Prague) at the beginning of his career dedicated all his time to painting and music. It wasn’t until 2004 that he was introduced to photography. He is a lead fashion photographer who collaborates with several magazines (e.g. Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Playboy, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Woman, and others). As an author of artistic photographs, he mainly prefers black and white photography in his works, which is strongly contrasting and impressive in his presentation. Moreover, his photographs carry a characteristically intense emotional and sensually erotic drive.
In May 2023, the Czech photographer Veronika Mašková visited the capital of Ukraine – Kyiv, which is the subject of her series of documentary photographs with the same name. With her photos, she manages to depict the horrors of war without explicitly expressing them, the photos give us a suffocating atmosphere of wartime Kiev, but tinged with hope.
The collections of photographs of Veronika Mašková, which were created during her week-long visit to Kiev in May, are as they are and cannot differ from the message they convey. It is impossible to displace the photographs from the hints and atmosphere of the extremely cruel aggression of the army. You won’t encounter happiness or a carefree atmosphere; although, a receptive soul might just manage to do so. The author managed to capture fragments of human belonging, pain, and all pervading reverence from the loss of a loved one. Primarily, we can encounter neverending hope, desire, and strong faith in an imminent end of the fury of war and immense human suffering, which can never be forgotten. Despite all this, Kiev, a wonderful and modern European city, attempts each day to live its life despite the everpresent war. We can encounter with the utmost respect the happenings that are gently and oftentimes even covertly mirrored within the photographs. She deserves our thanks and respect for this gentle testimony and her courage.
During the night of the 20th to the 21st of August 1968, Czechoslovakia was invaded by a half-a-million army of the five states of the Soviet bloc – Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and the German Democratic Republic. It was conducted with heavy army machinery including tanks. Therefore, the decision of Moscow harshly and ruthlessly ended the Prague Spring, which attempted to democratize the totalitarian régime. The citizens were horrified and fought with their bare hands in the streets against the armed occupiers. The most dramatic moments took place in front of the building of the Czechoslovak Radio in Prague. This occurred because of the fact, that people attempted to block the occupation of the radio station by creating barricades made from trucks, buses, and their bodies. However, clashes with the occupiers also occurred in many other locations of the republic. The aggressive and reckless behavior of the oppressors took its penalty. In 1968 a total of 137 Czechoslovak citizens died and more than 500 were badly injured because of the occupiers.
The group exhibition of the 26 photographers is a reminder of this year’s 55th anniversary of the historical event.
Dana Kyndrová, curator
REMEMBERANCE AGAINST DEATH
Debates around the significance of the Prague Spring are fruitful not in the least because they keep the event’s memory alive. Interpretations of the time of Prague Spring differs significantly based on the authors’ worldview. Some see it as an example of the common Western post-Munich notions of resistance; talking the talk without walking the walk. Others opine that true understanding requires time and question why the collective Western forces should have taken a position in the events of August 1968, when it was not pleaded for, much less imagined by the people of socialist Czechoslovakia. All are united in the belief that the significance of 1968 spans beyond a single generation and wasn’t influenced solely by international geopolitics, but also by the behavior and actions of Czechs and Slovaks.
Today we live in a chasm between two cultures; a culture of rememberance and a culture of forgetting. We must not succumb to the allures of the culture of forgetting. We can draw on more than just our cushy and comfortable contemporary experience. The idea of continuity is what allows us to not stray when navigating the complexities of lesser understood historical events. Through our dedication to rememberance we can keep alive our notions of historical heroes and cowards, who aid us in understanding our current world – that is, unless we forget them.
In the 55 years since the months of the Prague Spring, the involvement of many figures showed to be less substantial then they seemed at the time. Who can now truly be interested in the nature of socialist reforms that took place in the sphere of communist social models? Instead of socialist ideological philosophy we now center our discourse on the themes of freedom, rights to self-determination and belonging to a culture or civilisation. The experience of a civilisational threat that the Soviet occupation of August 1968 posed erased any doubts on whether our place is in the West or in the Russian world, as some stubborn and unteachable malcontents continue to ponder.
The unanswerable question remains of whether “passive resistance” was the appropriate response to the violence enacted on Czechoslovakia by its so called allies. For next time, the choice of active, forceful and armed resistance might be considered. It is more of a question of the national temperament than one of calculated logic and weighing of chances. Czechs don’t like to get carried away with flamboyant and grandiose gestures, much less with acts of mass heroism. The Czech flavor of survival is different from our neighbors’; in key moments we can produce from our midst so-called lightbearers who draw the line in the sand beyond which one can’t morally retreat. Their death redeems the nation’s sin of hopelessness: from Hus and the paratroopers of Operation Anthropoid to Palach and Zajíc. One lightbearer isn’t too little or too much, yet lost is a nation where not a single person rises up in resistance to evil. During the suppression of the Prague Spring many young people laid their lives for the ideal of national freedom. František Kriegel saved the nation’s honor and dignity with his fearless acts.
The higher purpose of the events of the Prague Spring are brought to sharp focus by the war waged practically at our doorstep. It is important to deeply understand the war between Ukraine and Russia. The Russian crusade against Ukraine is unequivocally linked to the ideological fundamentalism Russia is built on – the ideology of fear. All Russian philosophy and national governance rests on fear as the basic component of societal organisation. Disappearance of fear equates to the disappearance of Russia. Ukraine’s daily refusal to be intimidated or fearful in the face of Russian threats is a symbol of impending death to Moscow. Putin can’t coexist with the freedom-fighting Ukraine, which represents the negation of his necrophilic world. Putin loves fear, meanwhile Ukrainians love freedom. Their cheerful and unassailable temperament which is an everlasting celebration of life is in stark contrast to the tense cult of death and destruction which has reached its final morbid form under Putin’s rule.
Many Westerners might find Ukraine’s unyielding unbreakability difficult to understand. For many years they haven’t experienced the calling of a cause worth dying for. But Zelensky’s refusal to leave his homeland in the face of death is precisely what once made the West the West. Man, state and a nation show themselves most openly and honestly in a crisis. How they behave when faced with a threat of death and loss of freedom is who they truly are. To be clear, Ukraine is not only fighting for the West, it is the West, a West in the bloom of its youth characterised by the power of Western men willing to sacrifice their lives to prevent an existence under slavery and having to negotiate humiliating compromises with an aggressor. Ukraine is the contemporary frontier, and its people the new frontier men. If Ukraine succumbs in this war, it will also be the death of the West. In this case, Ukrainians killed would be the last free people to lose their lives. However they will not succumb.
The Czech nation has known many ways of being; the bitterness of loss and humiliation of betrayal, frustration from existential insecurity and the cynical habit of double-think and double-speak. It was brought down by the newly fashionable cowardice and pragmatic subservience, and elevated by the knowledge that it doesn’t occupy the space of the right side of history alone. It is true that the human being is inherently unteachable, with past mistakes only serving as a basis for future different mistakes, though completely unteachable nations are no longer present among us. There is even a chance to survive this century, so long that we don’t concede to looking downwards at our feet and continue looking for what appears on the horizon. The memory of the Prague Spring reminds us what is at stake. What is at stake are our souls, the future of our children, the purpose of human existence and the values of our Western civilization.
It is commonly said that the resistance of 1968 was a breath of freedom that enabled us to persevere through two more decades of breathless degradation and repression. We learned the lesson of hope. But it wasn’t hope that died last. It was the kind of hope that survives forever.
We present to you the exhibition Bound Landscape by Andrea Malinová. The author of the cycle is inspired by nature and landscape, thanks to which she connects subtle metaphors with the landscape of the human body. Within the staged photography, she uses natural substances, thanks to which the people in the photographs are overlapping and absorbing until they are a part of the artist’s ecosystem. The dialog with nature is conducted on the background of a light creamy interior wall. These large areas add a certain confident calmness to the images.
She does not use additional effects in the set. She works economically and therefore, does not need them. The additional effects of postproduction would only stage it into unbelievable perfection. The artist prefers to remain as an observer.
The exhibition Bound Landscape provides the audience with a meditation space as well as offers rest from today’s technological hastiness. It awakes in us the forgotten togetherness of man and nature.
The attendees of the world championship in skipping rocks at Hebridy, sidewalk sweepers in Brno, Madeleine Albright, Joan Baez, and other guests of the celebration in the American congress, firefighters from Naloucany with priest during the blessing of the new firefighter car, regulars in a bar in Memphis, huntersfrom three villages with a Lamborgini car, football fans in Vanuatu in the South Pacific…
These are some of the types of people that Roman Franc depicts in his new cycle of photographs titled Groups with an incredible sense for light intelligent humor, exaggeration, and with great appreciation for human values and togetherness.
Franc follows up on his previous work, in which portrait, documentary, and staged photography are mingled. More specifically on the extensive cycle in “Sokol movement members”: faithful guard as well as the cycle of absurdly arranged scenes called “My little miracles”. Several humorously staged group photographs were also created within this framework. Franc doesn’t deny his inspiration for many older artworks ranging from amateur images of family gatherings or old photographs of thousands of American soldiers arranged into a variety of signs and images to group portraits from Richard Avedon or Annie Leibovitz. The biggest inspiration, however, was the work of the American photographer Neal Slavin, who stages people in front of a large format camera to various humorous situations within his colorful group portraits. Franc established personal contact with Slavin since he is participating in the creation of a film about Slavin and is trying to organize his exhibition in the Czech Republic.
Roman Franc considers his first image in the cycle Groups to be the portrait of hundreds of attendees of the memorial March of Reconciliation walking from Pohořelice to Brno in May 2015 although some older works could also be included in this collection. The group portrait appeared at the center of Franc’s interest. The author not only intensively increases the number of his photographs with this theme, but also but he is also writing a dissertation on the development of the group portrait as part of his doctoral studies at the Institute of Creative Photography of the University of Silesia in Opava. Along with his friend and classmate Gabriel Fragner, he founded a two-member group FRA FRA in 2020, within which they are working on a joint project. It is titled Friday Evening at the Camp and they also created some group portraits together. The vast majority of portraits of various groups, however, Roman Franc creates alone.
Those would not exist unless the author would not have gained the trust of those being photographed, who willingly cooperated during posing according to his instructions. Sometimes, he has the concept of the images thought through to every last detail, other times, he spontaneously reacts to the surroundings, lighting, or the mood of the people in front of the camera. However, he always takes on the role of the director, who authoritatively yet amicably lets all those involved know, that they all play a crucial role in both artistically and historically important photographs. The subjects then have the feeling, that they are a part of something exceptional, of something that builds on the past and that will last for the future. He can persuade football players and their fans from the islands of Tanna, enjoyers of sauna and nudists near the river Svratka or dozens of seniors who used to work in an armory in Brno to cooperate. Its role in this plays not only the respect for a slow and heavy, but dignified large format film camera, so special in the age of phones and light compact cameras. Inventive image composition and technical precision both play a crucial role in his works.
Roman Franc often returns to taking photos of certain groups such as firefighters, hunters, or the citizens of the village of Naloučany. The citizens, later on, took him as one of their own and out of gratitude for the fact, that their portraits made their way into the library of the American Congress, named him a member of the firefighters and organized a ball in their village in his honor. Hence, not only great photographs are being created, but often even friendships.
Vladimír Birgus, curator of the exhibition
Milota Havránkova Foundation builds on the body of work of the renowned Slovak photographer Milota Havránková, who consistently and convincingly demonstrates her own uncompromising attitude to one’s inner artistic freedom through this medium.
The foundation supports artistic creation and curatorial and exhibition activities of the youngest generations and thus contributes to the understanding of this medium as a complex, dynamically evolving visual language communicating the fundamental questions of our being.
Milota Havrankova (b. 1945) belongs to the first generation of professional photographers with a university education in Czechoslovakia who in the late 1960s graduated in art photography from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU). Her work is characterised by a variety of technological and thought processes and a wide range of art disciplines, from design, through monumental and staged photography, to experimental film. Havránková entered the art scene in the late 1960s, when a young generation of photographers emerged (photographic „new wave“) who were not frightened to display a strong disrespect to the prevailing genres or formal traditions, or socially or politically engaged topics. Having crystallized outside the main photographic trends, her working method systematically demonstrates the fascination with a staged image and experimenting with incoherent and unconventional techniques. The artist´s timeless attitude to the issue of inner artistic freedom, even in the context of technological progress, is particularly inspiring. Havránková keeps transcending the boundaries of photography, film and video, anticipating the need to address the increasingly media-literate audience through several parallel languages. All these creative approaches can also be visible in her pedagogical works. In 2006 she was awarded the title of Professor of creative art, and for more than four decades, she has worked as a teacher at the best Czech and Slovak art schools, such as( the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Bratislava, Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica, and Art and Design Institute in Prague, where she considerably contributed to shaping key aspects of a parallel perception of photography and contemporary visual art. With the creative approach, she initiated the formation of the “Slovak New Wave” which was a group of young photographers who have influenced the postmodern line of Czechoslovak photography from the 1980s to the present. Havránková received several awards, such as the Crystal Wing Award in the category of fine art (2007), SEDF Professional Photographers Award – Personality of the Year (2014), or Tatra banka Foundation Art Award (2016).
The exhibition ‘Quicksands‘ is the second exhibition project of the Milota Havránková Foundation. The selected artists represent the generationaly wider line of a specific creative approach to photography. The theme of the exhibited project, which was worked on by the artists, was the of coming to terms with pain or hurtful personal experience that significantly altered their previous perception of themselves as well as of the world surrounding them.
Anna Vartecká, curator
The purpose of the Art Photo-Group “StreetPhoto is not just a Click in the Street”
is to find truer and higher form of street photography and to find new inspiration…
The Group is meant for all photographers who wish to creatively develop their art. The Group’s goal is to give its members space to debate about and publish their street photographs which did not come about through just a click in the street.
Curator: Veronika Mašková
We happily invite you to the exhibition featuring the lesser known work of one of the pioneers of humanitarian documentary photography in the former Czechoslovakia. The snapshots by Gustav Aulehla from the 50.-80s in the 20th century capture the images of lives of streets and cities, moments filled with movement and dynamic, but also waiting and rest, moments of birth, growth, maturing as well as the death of both people and objects. Due to his inspiration from the work of Henry Cartier-Bresson, Aulehla was the predecessor and founder of the street photography genre within our country.
The exhibition showcases a representative selection of the relatively broad as well as the lesser known work of one of the pioneers of humanitarian photography in the former Czechoslovakia. The snapshots by Gustav Aulehla from the 50.-80s in the 20th century capture the images of the lives of streets and cities, moments filled with movement and dynamics, but also waiting and rest, moments of birth, growth, maturing as well as the death of both people and objects. The broad work of the author, that could be compared to his personal photography diary consisting of roughly 80 thousand photographs, is a unique set capturing the second half of the 20th century in Czechoslovakia. That is without the everpresent self-censorship, tendentious or propaganda influenced point of view of an ordinary individual living in a peaceful, but also unfree and occupied after 1968 socialism.
through the whole world and managed to meet countless well-known personalities. He also operates in Hollywood, where he became a significant portrait photographer of actors. In the Leica Gallery Prague café, we present you with a diametrically differing series of his photographs, then with which Baumann is usually associated with and for which he receives praise. Currently, you have the opportunity to get introduced with the other, unfairly less known side of Baumann’s work. Photo series Life is a compilation of snapshots lacking any sort of arranging, that share the life stories of those featured on said photos. This serves as a reaction to the modern age, where we are constantly bombarded with ‘beauty ideals’, which are almost impossible to achieve naturally for the majority of people. Whoever wants to upkeep with the current trends needs to get something modified, input silicon under their skin and hide their natural appearance under a layer of make-up. All of these procedures are supposed to contribute to our everlasting youth and hide the reality. However, Manfred Baumann is taking a different approach to this photographic cycle. He captures the harsh face of reality with wrinkles, without adjustment, in which are engraved the life stories and destinies of people, who have walked this world for almost 100 years. Manfred and Nelly Baumann toured retirement homes and began collecting the stories of those people. Thanks to the interviews, Nelly Baumann managed to gather a compilation of life stories, which add to the exhibition while also strengthening it.
Jaroslav Kucera (*1946) would be hard pressed to find a more fitting name for his photography collection capturing the two decades of repressive normalisation between the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the Velvet revolution in November 1989.
In truth, on the surface life seemed to be calm. But a strange one, filled with tension. The calm seethed beneath its surface. Seethed with repressed emotions, mass frustration, schizophrenia of a dual existence, internal migration, and the irrepressible need for a sense kinship, even conspiracy… It was a state of “tragic conflict between external and internal reality, whose torment is experienced by the people of today”, to use the words of Czech interwar avant-garde artist Karel Tiege. Kucera immortalised the seemingly uncapturable contemporary conflict between external and internal reality, portraiting that strange calm. How? Through his extraordinary compassion and sensitivity toward a time he was a part of.
Jaroslav Kucera was 22 when he, a student at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague, was traumatised by August 1968 and the feeling of hot rage, disappointment, and powerlessness. That was the moment he decided to turn his previously amateur photography into a calling and a profession once he graduates. He began perceiving photography as an important tool for witness testimony and personal account, and with his characteristic zeal began capturing the unprecedented national cohesion, breath-taking solidarity, and spontaneous pushback against the rising new but familiar power. He was arrested, beaten, and kept in custody for several weeks. Kucera understood that the social documentary he was envisioning had no chance of materialisation in the time’s climate, and resorted to images whose testimony is indirect, round-about and focused exactly where the public’s attention quickly turned: behind the frame of the image.
And so his photographic cycles began emerging from student halls, city streets, deserted walkways, from the environment of buffets, pubs, casinos but also from the countryside, dedicated to the “people I have met”. Kucera’s deep empathy enabled him to act as a sensitive psychosocial probe. A probe with Kucera’s unique sense for humour, absurdity, and irony, particularly in the cycles Melnice winery and Communist festivities, where he brought together a touching display of human kinship and a contagious dark humour.
With his early work “Calm before the storm” Jaroslav Kucera places himself as the foremost representative of contemporary Czech photodocumentary.
Daniela Mrazkova, curator