Sixties | Robert Riedl

Sixties | Robert Riedl

Robert Riedl (1942-2002) was an ambitious amateur documentary photographer, who captured everyday moments without any aesthetical add-ons.
After graduating from high school in Jihlava, he studied at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at ČVUT (Czech Technical University) in Prague. He devoted his professional career to the national TV broadcaster Československá televize (Czechoslovak TV), where he started working as an assistant cameraman and later on worked in the Department of technological development as a sound engineer. Although he is not known by most of the current audience, he was not completely unknown as a photographer. I found dozens of his photographs that were published in newspapers and magazines between 1964 and 1966. For example, his photographs were published on the pages of the magazine Mladý svět alongside photographers such as Miroslav Hucek, Leoš Nebor, or Zdeněk Thom. He truly adored the work of Miloň Novotný, Josef Koudelka and Marie Šlechtová.

The central theme in his works is a young person. We are transported to the streets of both Prague and even villages, to everyday work life, to moments of joy shared by young people in both our country and abroad through his photographs. He photographs in schools, in aquaparks, in music clubs, during dancing lessons, during hitch-hiking trips, and also in military service or Spartakiad. He tries to be everywhere, where something is going on.

His publishing work that took place over multiple years started thanks to his first photography exhibition in the Klub cinema in 1963. The exhibition was then started by Dr. Ludvík Souček who wrote about Robert Riedl the following: „… he works in the middle of television and movie cameras. He has a truly cultured perspective and an amazing desire to photograph, which did not disappear even after shooting hundreds of movies. His photos are captured on film, he doesn’t concern himself with grain, with additional light, or blur caused by movement. He captures images everywhere, but not of everything. He presents his world of young people, as it is in various situations.“

In the case of Robert Riedl, this is a reminder of an author, who undoubtedly belongs to the history of Czech photography. The thirteen enlarged photographs showcased in Leica Gallery Prague Café are after a long time a small mosaic of the work created by the talented photographer, although the processing of his archive is not yet finished.

MgA. Daniel Šperl, Ph.D., curator


Nineties | Dana Kyndrová

Nineties | Dana Kyndrová

The Nineties are the summarium of an ambitiously conceived program. Dana Kyndrová, from the start of her career, focused on the photographic recording and eventually publication of testimony on timeless social questions. They embody an authentic realism that represents a wide movement in Czech culture, originally arising in opposition to the realism known as socialist, or in other words the doctrine of official propaganda.

If humanistic photography should wish to capture and transmit knowledge of actual people, it needs to be open not only to its viewers, but equally to its subjects. As a responsible documentarist, Kyndrová understandably respects those who do not wish to be photographed. At the same time, she also finds it unacceptable to create scenes she staged herself and then present the images from the staging as documentation of spontaneous action. Instead, she prefers patience, making informal contact and allowing the photography to take place naturally. And if she has no desire to manipulate with the actors or the viewers, it should be no surprise that she herself intends to remain free of any illusions.

The fall of the Communist regime at the end of 1989 was an event that Kyndrová, as a photographer, had no intention of missing, yet she retained her individualistic standpoint of scepticism towards all mass phenomena. New speakers held forth from new platforms, yet the applauding hands were often the same ones that she saw waving in approval toward the previous regime. In one interview, Kyndrová recalled that over a decade after the revolution, she encountered still in state service – at Prague Castle no less – one secret police officer she had photographed during May Day in 1983, as a security guard for the officials’ stage as the disciplined socialist public stood watching.

And just as the persistence of this particular detail from a Communist-era May Day demands our attention, we can also find in Kyndrová’s photographic cycles further indications of how strongly there resounds, in many different settings, the deformation of Communist ideology and official socialism. Or in parallel, to follow the pendulum of events as they swing towards senseless excesses of bodily liberation, once relieved of totalitarian strictures.

The Nineties does not work to evoke nostalgic moods, but more to provoke thoughtful reflection. For if we are not all situated in agreement upon social matters, then we cannot perceive either the past, or the world itself …

Dana Kyndrová has a sharply outlined view of what she finds interesting, what she expects in a wide range of social circles, and where to go looking for it. She can cast her eye of the lives of her contemporaries, speak with them, and above all photograph them. It springs forth from observation, as well as from her critical evaluation, examining the connections and working towards deriving conclusions… In this way, it seems that she proceeds from subject to subject, in each instance tracking down their characteristics and grasping the respective essences. For this reason as well, The Nineties retains the traditional division into chapters. Yet all the same, the wide range of subject matter, like all parts of the oeuvre, is linked through the author’s own motivations.

Dana Kyndrová is intent on nothing less than human fate. It is a subject that she found quickly in her youth and to which she remains faithful = for well over half a century. This longstanding heritage represents, for her, a challenge that does not let up and cannot be overlooked. Humanity may well intrigue her in the word’s most general sense, yet the medium of photography allows the transmission of, at best, only what people do, what they pay attention to, and how in each case their surroundings look…

Inner life is not to be seen.

Yet all the same, Kyndrová points equally to what remains, by principle, outside the image. However much she gazes at the exterior manifestations, she is not limited to the shaping of individual moments. What makes this possible is the balance between the choice of the shots and the sense for their thematic inclusion into a planned cycle. The author grants her publications the form of a story, a visual literature, as she says – though understood of course as a factual one. In The Nineties, this one-time point of view intersects with the standpoint of mature experience. With the passage of time, the original perspective increases in its drama, offering the transformation of immediate insights into a likeness.

The ninth book by Dana Kyndrová is therefore an expression of her mission, and hence of her personal fate. After all, photography shows not only what it set out for itself; it also points directly toward it.

Josef Moucha, curator

Dear visitors,
please be advised that the photographs in the „Erotic Show“ series (located in the last room) contain sexually explicit imagery. Please take this into consideration when deciding to view these works.

Thank you


Photogallery

Photos from the vernissage

To my Prague citizens

To my Prague citizens

The photography beginnings of Jan Mihaliček (*1965) fell to the time before 1989. He primarily photographed the Czechoslovak community that revolved around skateboarding and snowboarding and since 1987 collaborated with multiple samizdat projects. From December 1989, he worked as a photojournalist for „Lidové noviny“ newspaper. He photographed not only in Czechoslovakia but in various other countries worldwide. After the departure of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, he traveled there with Jaromír Štětina to create a series of reportages through which he was the first to uncover the previously unconfirmed existence of Russian prisoners from the Afghan war in Pakistan. He first attended humanitarian trips to wartime Yugoslavia and Nagorno-Karabakh with the „Lidové noviny“ newspaper Foundation which later transformed into a well-respected organization, „Člověk v tísni“ (People in Need). In 1994, he was a part of the preparatory team of the news magazine Týden and he was one of its photographers. In 1997, he won the 1st prize in the Czech Press Photo competition in the category of current report – reportage for his report from flooded Ostrava. At the beginning of the new millennium, he switched to becoming a freelance photographer which remained his occupation till today. Currently, he takes an interest in social thematic as both a photographer and a cameraman. He develops his work by using classic black-and-white document in the spirit of the traditions of humanist photography.
The exhibition ‘To my Prague citizens’ follows up on the 2018 exhibition ‘I (don’t) understand my Prague citizens…’ in Café Kampus. The author photographs Prague daily, hence, the exhibition displayed in the Leica Gallery Prague Café consists of newly taken photographs all captured within the last year. The connection of Leica camera and black-and-white, rather contrasting tonality, is the author’s signature. The photographs oscillate on the verge of documentary photographs, street photography and classic humanistic photography with artistic accent, with the search for specific lighting conditions, and most importantly the contrast of light and shadows.

Jan Mihaliček


Photogallery

Photogallery of

Red and blue | Vladimír Birgus

Red and blue | Vladimír Birgus

The immersive and wide-ranging photographic world of Vladimir Birgus opened its doors to colour back in the 1980s, that is to colour in its full saturation and evocative messaging, during a time when inventive use of colour was highly unusual in the context of Czech documentary photography. His colour configurations were since the beginning deliberate, conceived almost like a painting. Birgus’ often ghostly scenes not dissimilar to staged modulation despite not being conceived as such were conceptualised with careful attention to colour and specific lighting which supports the tones and plasticity of the visual work. Earlier photographs were laden with yellow, blue and black, with the later emergence of increasingly intense red coupled with a gradual near disappearance of yellow. Red is an extroverted colour, commanding attention and rousing emotions. The same can be said of Birgus’ work generally, although it is also headed towards calm and a certain type of visual contemplation. We realise this most clearly when examining photographs that don’t capture people, surprisingly to some. Here colour intensity reaches its maximum, the empty, almost abstract spaces are however charged with emotion and concealed explosion of possible interpretations and mental narratives. Red and Blue, an almost Stendhalian paraphrase, draw us into the photograph to the point, where we viewers become another actor in the photographed reality, not in the least indifferent to the event photographed. Somewhere in those moments, art is born.

The beginnings of Birgus’ work date back to 1972. From his then-black-and-white photography, we can see the photographer’s intentional search for situations which outgrow humanistic documentaries towards a subjective visual narrative open to individual interpretation. With the advent of colour photography in the 1980s, this quality in Birgus’ photography deepened. It is safe to say that moments and situations unfold slightly differently in colour as opposed to in a monochrome photographic world. If classic black-and-white photography tends to work with a snapshot of a very short time and with a certain form of aesthetic composition often leading to a condensed visual shortcut, colour, particularly in Birgus’ work, expands the mental field of the image. Time expands and stretches out, colour doesn’t rush, and components rarely included in black-and-white narrative come into play or have life breathed into them, as they might seem banal or uninteresting in the black-and-white composition. The photogenic nature of colourful scenes evokes a sense of theatricality, stagendness and unreality which is paradoxical since the truthfulness of colour ought to be more complex. I believe Birgus knows in which emotional and compositional plane colours work. He doesn’t rush to make a point – after all, he resisted this even in his black-and-white work. He knows how to condense and lighten an image while maintaining visual intensity and narrative expressivity. His work can then have many points, or hints of meaning. He likes to ‘compose’ in planes, drawing on the geometry of shadows and surfaces. Surfaces and planes naturally divide and give rise to space; sometimes we must wonder if it is no longer about abstract hints, about emptying or the autonomy of colourful narrative. Sometimes when I gaze at Birgus’ photographs, I feel a comforting warm touch of sunset’s rays and the pulse of the day quieting and slowing, with contours sharpening as the day passes by. I notice the shapes and am warmed by the possibility of imagining narratives and events. Yet Birgus works masterfully with dark and the harshest of lights as well. He has an eye for situations where characters are in shadows or their fragments seem motionless, yet so much is happening narratively. I’m glad Birgus detests the haze and insists on firm demarcations. The bounds of light and shadow seem acceptable only when contrasted to the maximum. The humour of Birgus’ photographs remains in the distinct smile of colour where composition, clustering, shadow and gesture are definitive in a way only colour photography can present. And Vladimir Birgus as well.

Martin Dostal, curator


Gallery

Glances | Veronika Mašková

Glances | Veronika Mašková

To get in the immediate proximity to people who, in the modern, technology-focused era still live in a traditional way of life and are highly connected to nature is something, that piqued my interest. Hopefully, I managed to capture something in their glances, that would be hard to find in our own. I sincerely hope, that their faces and expressions will have the same intense effect on you, as they do on me.

I captured these photographs in parts of Ethiopia, where the southern tribes Arbore, Dassanech, Hamar, Nyangatom, Suri, and Konso live.

Veronika Mašková

Veronika Mašková loves photography and devotes herself to the art. She is truly a master of many genres. She is a fitness trainer, alpinist, traveller, and one of the founding members of the street photography group called ‘Streetphoto is not only a click on the street’. She continuously returns to the premises of Leica Gallery Prague, whether as an author or a curator.


The Archive of Hidden Meanings | Pavel Dias, Tibor Hussar, Karina Golisová

The Archive of Hidden Meanings | Pavel Dias, Tibor Hussar, Karina Golisová

The exhibition ‘The Archive of Hidden Meanings’ demonstrates various showcases of both Czech and Slovak documentary photography, as presented by the works of three authors succeeding by generations. More specifically, they are the works of Pavel Dias (1938-2021), Tibor Husár (1952-2013), and Karina Golisová (*1997). In the center of their focus is an individually thinking and acting person who also plays a part in numerous social circles. Hence, a person who is a part of both ‘small’ and ‘big’ historical events. The combined quality of all three authors, despite their different time-space starting points, is nonchalant and yet brilliantly pointed conveying the mood and atmosphere change, transformation is terms of society, but even inside of an individual.

The exhibition ‘The Archive of Hidden Meanings’ is the initiative of the Foundation of Milota Havránkova, which supports the annual creation of a project presenting the work of a pair of already established photographers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, supplemented by the work of a beginner artist.


Stories // Faces Kevin V. Ton

Stories // Faces  Kevin V. Ton

STORIES // FACES

Life stories written in the faces of both known and unknown men

“The creation of a single world comes from a huge number of fragments and chaos.”
Hayao Miyazaki

Kevin V. Ton follows up and develops on the tradition of classic documentary photography, the resulting images are black and white, mostly in a classical 35 mm film format. He combines very close details, still life and its surroundings, and even a reporting approach. He perceives photographs as ‘expanded memory of the mankind’ without which certain situations would not be recorded. ‘I think about what, where, and why I take photos, but I also photograph based on my intuition. I take in the surrounding events, but I never photograph in a chaotic matter. The preparation before I go somewhere is very important to me. I conduct research, I find out what that given place offers, and then I mostly work with intuition. However, it is crucial to combine both logic and emotion.”

(Interview for the cultural magazine UNI, May 2023 – Helena Musilová, chief curator G HMP)

Kevin V. Ton is a freelance photographer and a recipient of numerous awards. During his life, he dedicated his time to live, black and white photography with a focus on humanistic, documentary photography, especially in terms of long-term projects. He has been dedicated to street photography for so many years now.

www.kevin-v-ton.com


Walachia, my homeland | Josef Vrážel

Walachia, my homeland | Josef Vrážel

Wallachia, my homeland

The photographer Josef Vrážel (*1966) was born in Karolinka in Vsetín region in the beautiful countryside of Wallachia where he has worked and photographed his whole life. He loves and has a deep knowledge of his homeland which is reflected in the depth of the photographs of people. These photographs are not only simple documentation but perfectly put-together images filled with stories, memories, and the essence of the location where the artist is based, and as he states, he would never leave. Vrážel knows every single part of Wallachia, his homeland. He is well-acquainted with his ‘nice countrymen’. He was aware of their joys, losses, and even hopes. He was born with a great gift of empathy. Thanks to this gift, he can seep through to the hidden privacy, that people offer to him almost on a silver platter, hence, allowing him to capture their images in a way that reflects precisely who they are. His photographs are a pure showcase of the humanity of the beautiful people of Wallachia. Moreover, Vrážel can act as a witness to their life and capture everything for future generations of lovers of photography to enjoy.

You can find amazing photographers both in Wallachia and at different places in Moravia. This includes but is not limited to Jindřich Štreit, Gustav Aulehla, Ostravian Viktor Kolář, or Jaroslav Pulicar who recently had an exhibition at Leica Gallery Prague. Still, I believe, that Jožka (a nickname that is used by all his friends) is the purest one of all. Not only is he a ‘pure Wallachian through and through’, but he is also a very perceptive photographer.  An observer, who doesn’t take photos in secrecy but rather uses patience and emotion that can create beautiful photos in any situation of his fellow Wallachian countrymen. He truly has a gift and can fully use it.

Jaroslav Kučera, curator


Photogallery

Eva Heyd | Private Journeys

Eva Heyd | Private Journeys

Photogallery

Eva Heyd’s photographic work and artistic progress are closely connected to her personal life and the paths she chose to take, as well as the era she lived through and experienced.

Together with other photographers, who got together at the Strahov Photo Club in the seventies, she focused on documentary photography. Portraits and nudes from the Women series are an exceptionally sensitive testimony to the lives of the author’s contemporaries, who allowed her to enter their privacy and their inner world.

A significant turning point in Eva Heyd’s life was her emigration to the USA in the mid-80s. Life in New York with all the freedoms that the city offered, in contrast to her native city Prague, which was under totalitarian rule at the time, also brought the author new professional insights. The mixture of impressions from the city was one of the inspiring stimuli for creating photomontages, a technique which she already started to use in Prague. Another source of inspiration was her collaboration with major New York art museums, for which she photographed art objects for many catalogs. To this day a combination of photography and glass is an integral part of her free form art.

Another important time in the author’s life journey was the year 2005. After twenty years, she returned to the Czech Republic and settled in Rožmitál pod Třemšínem. Moving from a bustling metropolis, she found herself in the privacy of a small town. This fundamental change brought new themes into Eva Heyd’s photographic artwork. She gradually became acquainted with the mysterious landscape of the Brdy region and was able to capture the atmosphere of places that encourage quiet contemplation in her photographs. Her lifelong interest in history continues to attract her to places marked by human activities that are centuries old and also recent, both affecting the landscape in some way. How to now perceive the energy in a region that was so influenced by the religiosity of the Holy Mountain, where in the past tens of thousands of believers pilgrimaged to see miracles of the Virgin Mary? How to depict the contradictions in the actions of people who built industrial structures and eventually abandoned them? How to capture the feeling that deteriorated places evoke? How to suggest associations that a detail from nature elicits?

Reality versus emotion. The fundamental contradiction, a principle that connects Eva Heyd’s work in all stages of her creation, just like photomontage, layering impressions, thoughts, memories, and knowledge. The images created by the author contain messages that inspire our individual search for connections.

 

                                                                                    Hana Ročňáková

Marek Kapler | Goodbye Holešovice

Marek Kapler | Goodbye Holešovice
Marek Kapler

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“.


Gallery of photos from the exhibition

Lukáš Dvořák | XIII

Lukáš Dvořák | XIII

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.


Photos from the exhibition Lukáš Dvořák | XIII

Kyiv

Kyiv

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.

Michal Mihal