Jaroslav Kučera


3. 2. 2017 - 2. 4. 2017

For his 70th birthday exhibition, Jaroslav Kučera, the preeminent exponent of Czech life photography today, has come up with a project that surprisingly does not focus on his famous ‘people on the margin of society’, but on the apparently banal material objects that surround us. And what they tell us about our world is just as powerful as when the lens is trained on actual human beings – in fact often even more so. Especially when the photographer presents his images in masterfully juxtaposed pairs that elicit in us a thrilling sense of the mysterious – an awareness of the hidden beauty in our human world. The result is a kind of magic ‘surbanalism’, a journey of discovery through the most ordinary of everyday objects.


Photographs from the opening

Press preview, installation of the exhibition

In his latest project, Silent Dialogues, JAROSLAV KUČERA has done something surprising. Instead of pursuing his usual fascinating theme of ‘people on the margin’ (that is, individuals whose lives don’t fit into the standard mould), the preeminent exponent of Czech life photography with his passionate interest in social issues now presents us with a world of inanimate objects – the physical environment that these people inhabit. He is drawn to the most ordinary things – which are in fact nothing less than poetic objets trouvés. In doing so he provides us with clear proof of that remarkable assertion of the Surrealists, that ‘when depicting the undoubtedly real we are on the verge of the fantastically unreal.’

Kučera is fully aware of the affective impact of banal objects, of their capacity to evoke memories and desires, reveal hidden meanings, and trigger emotional associations. With him, however, it is not so much a case of surrealism as of surbanalism. For unlike Jindřich Štyrský and later (in the Czech tradition) Vilém Reichmann, Emila Medková, Miroslav Hák and Jiří Sever, Kučera does not seek out aspects of reality that are in themselves bizarre, but on the contrary those that are most banal. That are, in the dictionary definition sense, ‘ordinary, insignificant’. To paraphrase the famous words of Karel Teige, theoretician of the interwar avant-garde, and apply them to Kučera: ‘By characterizing surbanalism as magic banalism, we are identifying pretty exactly one of its chief features.’

Magic – that is the word for Kučera’s Silent Dialogues. And the most magical thing about these works is that what they tell us about ourselves and the times we live in is just as powerful as when the lens is trained on actual human beings – in fact often even more so. Especially when the photographer links his images in pairs. These masterful juxtapositions take the viewer into a realm of intriguing secret conversations, into an unseen human domain. Thus not even in this latest project has Kučera deviated from his creative path during a lifetime of photography. Quite the reverse. He is simply letting himself – and us – take a fresh, more magical view of the world we live in.

Daniela Mrázková, curator


Born 1946 in Ředhošť, Czech Republic.

He studied at the Secondary School of Civil Engineering in Mělník. In 1973 he completed his studies at the College of Civil Engineering in Prague and became a civil engineer. Immediately after the state examinations he started to earn his living as a „freelance“ photographer. During the normalization period he was taking photographs for some magazines and state enterprises. Following the velvet revolution he stood at the emergence of the Signum Photographic Group, and in 1996 he became a member of the Bilderberg Hamburg agency. In 2006 he founded Jakura publishing.


2016:    Prague – Sudetenland, Czech Photo Centre Gallery

2014:    Písek – Meetings, moments of solitude, Prácheň Museum

2013:    Prague – As I met people, Old Palace, Prague Castle

2013:    Bielsko-Biala – As I met people, B&W Gallery

2013:    Prague – Face to Face, Chlubilové, Lucerna, Klub Koníček

2013:    Blatná – Meetings, moments of solitude, Castle

2011:    Moravská Třebová – Selection of works, Moravská Třebová Museum

2010:    Prague – Black-and-White, /Prague 1969-2010/ – Leica Gallery Prague, Prague

2010:    Prague – Meeting, Post Minigallery of the Gentlemen´s Club Žižkov

2010:    Hořice v Podkrkonoší – Meetings, Moments, Solitude, Hořice Museum

2010:    Levice – Jaroslav Kučera, Doboóvský mansion (kaštěl)

2009:    Prague – 10 Portraits, Literary Coffee Lounge U Řehoře Samsy

2009:    Prague – Black-and-White, Literary Coffee Lounge U Řehoře Samsy

2009:    Roztoky – Tavern gaieties, Academic Gallery

2009:    Prague – People I have met
/with sculptor Václav Frydecký/ – 32nd Saloon Zentiva

2009:    Prague – Totality (Totáč), /with Jiří Egert/ – Gallery Smart

2009:    Prague – New Old Photos 
Gabfest (Beseda) – Ars Pragensis

2006:    Brussels – People I have met 
Prague´s House

2004:    Lvov  – Bohemia is also like this
Palace of Arts

2003:    Prague – Selection from People I have met
Galerie Na schodech / Mironet /

2003:    Berlin – 1970s and Communist Holidays
Czech Cultural Centre

2002:    Kladno – From Prague´s taverns
Little Gallery of the Savings Bank

2002:    Prague – People I have met, Old Town Hall

2001:    Prague – World Web Photo Gallery, www.wwg.cz

2001:    Plzeň, Town Hall

2001:    Sarajevo, Gallery of Coffee Lounge Čulhan

2000:    Prague – 1970s, Amadeus Prag

2000:    Berlin 
Czech Cultural Centre

1999:    The Hague 
Consulate of the Czech Republic

1999:    Duisburg – Sudetes, Wasserturn Gallery

1999:    Wessel – Sudetes, Wasserturn Gallery

1999:    Bratislava, House VPN / with Jan Šibík /

1998:    Berlin – Prague is also like this
Czech Cultural Centre

1998:    Dresden – Prague is also like this
Neue Zeiten Gallery

1998:    Vilnius 
Lithuanian Photographic Company Gallery

1996:    Prague – Sudetes, “13” Gallery

1996:    Prague – Prague is also like this
Prague House of Photography

1995:    Amiens, Jacques Tati Gallery

1995:    Kladno, Little Gallery of the Savings Bank

1995:    Cheb – Sudety 
G 4 Gallery

1994:    Freiburg – Sudety, Schwarzeskloster Gallery / with Dana Kyndrová /

1994:    Basel, No Name Gallery

1994:    Denver, Temple Emanuele

1992:    Brno, House of Arts

1990:    Basel 
No Name Gallery

1990:    Freiburg –  Wie durch ein Wunder, Stadtbibliothek

1983:    Prague, Fotochemy Exhibition Hall

1979:    Olomouc
Arcade Gallery

1977:    Prague, Unicorn Gallery (galerie U jednorožce) / with Jan Všetečka /

1977:    Brno
Funk´s study

1975:    Prague, Fotochemy Exhibition Hall

1975:    Olomouc, Arcade Gallery (galerie V podloubí)

1969:    Prague, Strahov campus

Exhibitions of Topics of Historic Architecture

1990:    Prague – Trade-Fair Palace

1989:    Dortmund – Town Hall

1989:    Helsinki – Town Hall

1988:    Bologna – Palazzo de Renzo

1988:    Moscow – Trade-Fair Palace

1987:    Rome – Palazzo Barberini

Publication – Author´s Photographs

2002:    People I have met – Publisher KANT

2009:    Fishermen in the Třeboň Region – published by JAKURA

2013:    As I met people – texts PhDr. Jan Kříž, PhDr. Daniela Mrázková, Dušan Veselý – JAKURA

2014:    Meetings, moments of solitude – text PhDr. Jan Kříž – JAKURA

2016:    Sudetenland – text PhDr. Daniela Mrázková – JAKURA

Author´s Publications - Architecture

1983:    National Theatre 1983

1990:    Historical and Present-Day Prague 1

1996:    From the UNESCO map

1998:    Dientzenhofers

1999:    National Theatre, History and the Present-Day Building

2002:    Wallenstein Palace (Valdštejnský palác)

2005:    České Budějovice

2006:    Spa of West Bohemia (Západočeské lázně)

2007:    Karlovy Vary

Publications published by JAKURA Publishing House

2007:    Liliana Maftei, text Jiří Karbaš

2007:    František Ronovský, text Jiří Urban

2009:    Through World War I on foot – Through Objective by Unknown Soldier

2009:    Václav Frydecký, text Prof. František Dvořák

2009:    Fishermen in the Třeboň Region, text Miroslav Hule

2010:    Black-and-White ( Prague 1969 – 2010 ), text Josef Chuchma

2011:    War’s Photographs ( 1914 – 1918 )

2013:    Jaroslav Blažek, photography Jaroslav Kučera

2013:    As I met people, texts PhDr. Jan Kříž, PhDr. Daniela Mrázková, Dušan Veselý

2014:    Devil Centrifuge – Josef Váchal

2014:    Ninety Hindsight, text Dušan Veselý

2014:    77 Jewish Jokes, MUDr.Miloš Jetel ( Moše Jajteles )

2014:    Meetings, moments of solitude, text PhDr. Jan Kříž

2015:    The Old Man Lying In Wait, text prof. Miloš Hoznauer

2015:    Premonstratensian Monastery in Teplá

2016:    Prague, London, Heaven And Back, text Pavel Hokynek

2016:    Chess Queen Věra Menčíková, text Jan Kalendovský

2016:    Sudetenland, text PhDr. Daniela Mrázková

Representation in Collections

Moravská galerie Brno (Moravian Gallery Brno)

ICP New York

Life magazine New York

Colorado Photographic Art Center Denver

Czech Photographers´ Association

Gallery of the Capital of Prague

National Museum of Photography in Jindřichův Hradec