11. 9. 2020 - 1. 11. 2020
The “Family Portrait” photographical project has gained social significance over the years. It portraits personalities form the fields of cinematography, architecture, politics, education, healthcare, sport, business and so forth. For Stanko the inspiration isn’t so much the models’ profession, but the psychological side of being immortalized; Stanko’s motivation is mainly the models’ interest to open themselves up to the photographical performance as a prerequisite for a depiction without excessive self-control.
Family portrait is a project that came about untraditionally – the composition of figures is captured through a series of mirrors by which an illusion of a different, overturned space is created. The end result is a black and white unedited photograph signed by the author resulting in a standalone art work.
The intentional coupling of two levels of content – one being a stylized composition, other a real space immortalized in time – further enriches the captured moment. Especially so through the overlap of the two content planes via the author’s specific creation process. The aim of the project is to create a holistic image of the older generation’s society as represented by famous personalities and everyday people of artists’ and other professionals’ current families. The voluntary participation in a stage performance or self-capturing signals the conviction that despite some risk it is worth it to undergo a manipulation of oneself by the author for the sake of a progressive reflection. The motivation is the curiosity of the figurants to get to know themselves as different than previously thought, even if the price to pay is the loss of self-critical control. This motivation will allow the photographed to come to terms with the fact that their unusual display can reveal new ways of looking at themselves.
The core theme running through the entire project is the fact that at the time of photographing the deciding factor isn’t a social undertone, personality of the photographed or “little societies” of certain professions, but the psychology of self-perception. In each image a question is asked; whether the person can withstand the unusual role of an actor.
Through his carefully prepared exhibition collection, Vasil Stanko makes it clear that art has not yet given up on expressing stories through the classical genre of group portrait. Evidently he feels that bringing back the tradition of photographing families isn’t necessarily backwards, however Stanko’s work did not stagnate within the confines of the hereditary theme.
Stanko’s collection begs the question of what form his work is based on. Stanko’s compositions aren’t casual improvisations or capturing spontaneously occurring events. Vasil Stanko prefers purposeful creation – in cooperation with the ones photographed, Stanko organizes live images whose reflections he captures through the system of mirrors, only to then finalize and unite the image with his signature.
The point of interest of contemporary artistic photographers is subjectivity, perhaps at times at the expense of straightforward observation, a method used for austere witness testimony. If an author uses multicolored or monochrome stylization, it is a free choice representing his distinctive will and artistic touch. Current technology has ceased to be a limitation predetermining the parameters and special effects of an image. However Stanko’s goal aren’t the optical effects themselves, his intention is to achieve the most creative image possible. With a feel for the content, Stanko depicts the posing personalities and captures the space they’re posing in. He follows his own vision as well as the reality of the subject photographed. That is why Stanko’s work can appeal to a wider audience and at the same time meet the personal representation needs of the photographed subjects; the need to be immortalized via a medium of lasting value.
Stanko understands family as a cohesive collective, playing a foundational role within a wider community. In this respect, the photographical project has gained social significance over the years. It portraits personalities form the fields of cinematography, architecture, politics, education, healthcare, sport, business and so forth. For Stanko the inspiration isn’t so much the models’ profession, but the psychological side of being immortalized; Stanko’s motivation is mainly the models’ interest to open themselves up to the photographical performance as a prerequisite for a depiction without excessive self-control.
With digital technology granting a wide array of people the opportunity to enter the public space, a greater emphasis is placed on serious photographical messages, at least from the more refined and demanding audiences. Seeking superficial souvenirs made to show off within the Family Portrait ensemble would be in vain. They don’t hold value in the artistic sphere. It is no wonder that the overall impression of Stanko’s collection remains urgent. After all, Vasil Stanko has been cultivating a cultured suggestion of intimacy since his early work in portraits, nudes and other genres that he connects with his newer work again and again, as can be seen in his monograph from 2002 conceptualized alongside with the theorist Vaclav Macek or in his retrospective book catalogue of the Slovak New Wave: The 80s published by Tomas Pospech and Lucie F. Fiserova in 2014.
The finishing touch to our impression will be the intersection of all components of the author’s message…
17. 3. 1962 in Myjava, Slovakia
1977 – 1981 High school of Technology and Art in Bratislava, department of photography
1981 – 1987 Academy of Musical Arts FAMU in Prague, department of photography (prof. Jan Šmok)
Freelance photographer since 1987.
2011 – 2012 external pedagogue at FAMU, department of photography.
Since 2012 external pedagogue at private Higher professional art school Michael.
Long term co-operation in photography with Benedikt Rejt Gallery in Louny, Barrandov Studios and Prague Castle Administration.
“Couple’s nude”, 1985; “Tribute to personalities and important events”, 1989; “How to treat native people”, 1990; “Silhouettes and contours”, 1991; “Catch XXII”, 1992; “Half inward half out”, 1993; “Silhouettes and contours 2”, 1993 – 1994; “Fables and sayings”, 1995; “Legs and legs and stories”, 1996; “Attic”, 1996 – 1997; “Theatre in mirrors”, 1997; “Lovers of the year 2”, 1998; “A person and a prop”, 2001-2003; “Attic 2”, 2007; “A family project”, 2012 – 2013
So far Stanko has had 30 solo exhibitions nationally and internationally and his work has been exhibited in more than 170 group exhibitions and projects, both across the Czech Republic and abroad.
Stefancikova, A. – Vasil Stanko, How to treat indigenous people, Kvadrata Prague, 1991
Menkman, L. – Fabulous! V. Stanko, M. Svolik, R. Prekop, Voetnoot VRM, Antwerp, 2002
Macek, V. – Vasil Stanko, D. Freidlaenderova, S. Friedlaender, Prague, 2002
Prague castle, representation spaces, Prekop, Stanko, Prague Castle Administration, Prague, 2001
Barrandov Studios, Location guide, Prekop, Stanko, Barrandov Studios, 2006
Vasil Stanko, Stories backwards, Print Design – Production, Prague, 2008
Cooperation with Gemaart and Pecka Gallery 1995/2005 and cooperation on publication of visual artists: Theodor Pistek, Alena Kucerova, Jiri Sopko, Jiri Kolar, Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Trnka, Mikolas Galanda, Alena Bicovska and others in co-operation with Benedikt Rejt Gallery in Louny.
Vasil Stanko’s long term partner is the company slachta.gallery s.r.o., which takes care of scanning, printing and framing his exhibits and also takes care of the artist’s portfolio.