Miroslav Machotka


23. 1. 2015 - 6. 4. 2015

Miroslav Machotka is a distinctive figure of Czech photography, and his work reflects a truly unique, innovative approach to photographic expression. The black-and-white photographs presented here, made using the analog process, represent his work of the last forty years, yet the selection constitutes a whole: the individual photographs are united by an inner bond.

Fotografie ze setkání s novináři

Fotografie z vernisáže

Only by selecting the place, subject matter, light, and time, and visually linking elements of the photographed world, without any external or formal manipulation, Machotka shapes his shots much as an artist constructs an abstract painting. Each of his photographs is then an individual work, reflecting not only the appearance of urban civilization, but also resonating with his innermost feelings when encountering the everyday life, banality, and materialism of his environment. The viewers find themselves on the threshold of a very familiar world, which is first cast into doubt and then opened up again to their own imagination.

I felt, however, that these truths which the intellect educes directly from reality were not altogether to be despised, for they might be able to enshrine within a matter less pure indeed but still imbued with mind those impressions which are conveyed to us outside time…the work of art was the sole means of rediscovering Lost Time…

In his In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust assigns the intuitive rediscovery of inner cognition and the moment of inner truth outside of the mundane, sometimes even banal reality, the significance of a major artistic feat. That is where, according to him, the essence of real creation lies – not in the mere intellectual following of an ahead defined path. These essayistic reflections originally written in relation to literature, however, remarkably resonate with another medium – with photography. We of course cannot link them to every type of art photography – however, to Miroslav Machotka’s work, it’s as if they were ascribed. As if the photographer constantly sought for the truthful image, the exact moment of time in the depths of his inner self and because of it, over and over brought authentic records of the surrounding world which could somehow capture it. This search – partly instinctive, partly emotional, is, however, clasped by the author’s distinctive intellectual and artistic background.

The exhibited retrospective called Site Events presents a substantial collection of Machotka’s black and white photographs, created analogically during the past forty years. What is remarkable though is that despite the time span encompassing these works, they create a comprehensive collection and new links to be found repeatedly between individual photographs. This compactness is given by the already mentioned author’s perception of reality and the principle of his work, which – unlike in the case of many photographers – is not a mere recording and potentially an assessment of an external form. Machotka more or less creates his shots – without any manipulation, only through the selection and visual linking of elements of the photographed world – much like a painter constructs an abstract painting or a sculpture.

He looks for his topics, or “sites”, in the scenes of urban civilization from which he then selects specific cuts, objects, situations created by time and light. Most of the time, he works with detail and half-detail. Machotka’s sources are mainly Prague, where he lives, and Roudnice, his birth town he frequently revisits – places where he feels to be fundamentally anchored. Everything is seemingly matter-of-course here for him, yet it is here where he again and again finds impulses provoking to a new grasp of intimately known surroundings.

Because together with the overall atmosphere of the era, the author internally continues to absorb the general changes in artistic expression and, to a certain extent, he reacts to these impulses, Machotka’s work is occasionally linked to minimalism, land art, conceptualism, etc. In reality though, his work is highly distinctive and is essentially outside of external formal influences. By combining a visual shift with authentic elements of reality captured in concrete time, the author creates an unusual and exciting tension. In turn, this entices the viewer’s imagination to their own interpretation.

A single photograph represents a fragment of time and cannot, on its own, explain how things work – this role is to an extent fulfilled only by the complex of photographs as a whole. Despite the documentary attributes, seen from a distance of time, Machotka’s collection is purely visual – does not succumb to external flow of events around us – in this sense, perhaps taking on the qualities of music. As if the moments he’s recorded had been precisely those that stand outside time.

Eva Heyd, curator

Miroslav Machotka

Born in 1946 in Roudnice nad Labem

1961–1964 Secondary school in Roudnice nad Labem
1964–1969 Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague

He has been a photographer since 1970’s. At that time, he was a member of the Strahov Photo Club.
During the 1980’s, he exhibited in and attended gatherings of photographers in Wroclaw’s Foto-Medium-Art Gallery.
He is a member of the Prague House of Photography.
He works as a studio technician for Czech Television.

Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague; Museum of Photography and Modern Visual Media, Jindfiichův Hradec; Moravian
Gallery, Brno; Prague City Gallery, Prague; Muzeum Sztuki, Lodž; Nichietsu, Tokio; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston;
Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; International Center of Photography, New York; Museé de l´Elyseé, Lausanne

Solo & Two Person Exhibitions
2012 – Mayrau Mine Museum, Kladno–Vinařice /with Jaroslav Beneš/
2011 – František Drtikol Gallery, Příbram
– Pusta Gallery, Cultural Center, Katowice
2010 – Photograph Studio, Prague
– Gallery of Modern Art, Roudnice nad Labem
2007 – Česká spořitelna Small Gallery, Kladno
2005 – Small Exhibition Hall, Liberec
2000 – Gallery of Modern Art, Roudnice nad Labem
– Governer’s Palace, Moravian Gallery, Brno
1998 – Czech Center, Bratislava
1995 – Prague House of Photography, Prague
1994 – Gallery 4, Cheb /with Jaroslav Beneš/
1992 – Cultural Center ČSFR, Berlin
1991 – Old Town Hall Gallery, The Brno House of Arts, Brno /with Jaroslav Beneš/
1990 – Small Exhibition Hall, Liberec
– Česká spořitelna Small Gallery, Kladno
1986 – Foto-Medium-Art Gallery, Wroclav
– Fotochema Exhibition Hall, Prague
1984 – University Photo Club, Brno /with Marie Kratochvílová/
1982 – Cloister Gallery, Olomouc
1979 – Jaromir Funke’s Cabinet of Photography, The House of the Lords of Kunštát, Brno
1974 – Nerudovka Theater, Prague

Selected Group Exhibitions
2013 – International Symposium of Photography, Ladislav Sutnar Gallery, Pilsen
2012 – Paths of Light, Regional Museum, Kolín
– Element F, Moravian Gallery, Brno
2010 – Escapes and Returns, Czechoslovak Photography and Surrealism, Moravian Gallery, Brno
2009 – Outside the Zone, Langhans Gallery, Prague
– Czech Photography of the 20th Century, Kunst und Ausstellunghalle, Bonn
2008 – The Third Side of the Wall, Moravian Gallery, Brno
2007 – Transparent World, Gallery of Modern Art, Roudnice nad Labem
– Light and Shadow, Gallery of Modern Art, Roudnice nad Labem
– Photography of the 70’s, Klatovy Gallery, Klatovy
2005 – Czech Photography of the 20th Century, Prague City Gallery, Prague
2004 – Photography?, Klatovy, Brno
2002 – Czech and Slovak Photography of the 80’s and 90’s, Olomouc, Bratislava
2001 – Stone Seeing, Náchod
– Contemporary Czech Photography, SK Josefsberg Studio, Portland, Seattle
2000 – Society in front of the Lens, Municipal House, Prague
1999 – “Us” – 1948-1989, Moravian Gallery, Brno
1998 – Contemporary Czech Photography Personalities, Museum of Art and Design, Bene‰ov
1997 – Czech Photography, Bohemian Gallery, New York
1996 – Tendencies, Modern Czech Photography, Han Gallery, Beijing
– Funke’s Kolín, Regional Museum, Kolín
1995 – Doznawanie obrazu, Klodsko
1994 – After the Velvet Revolution – Contemporary Czech Photography, Perth
– Czech Photography, Slovakian National Gallery, Zvolen
1993 – Peron 5, Polish Cultural Center, Prague
1993 – What´s New Prague, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
1992 – International conference East-West, Wroclaw
1991 – Contemporary Czech Photography and Glass Art, Kunsthaus, Hamburg
– New Spaces of Photography, Wroclav
1990 – 5th International Miniature Art Exhibition, Toronto
– Choice 19, Photofest, Houston
1989 – 150 Photographs – The Collection, Moravian Gallery, Brno
– Elementarność fotografii, Galerie FMA, Wroclav
– Czech Amateur Photography 1945–1989, Brussels Pavilion, Prague
– 150 Years of Photography, Waldstein Riding School, Prague
– Paths of Czechoslovak Photography, House at the Stone Bell, Prague
– Tschechoslowakische Fotografie der gegenwart, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
1988 – Czech Photography, Photofest, Plovdiv
– Czech Photographers, Toulouse, Paris
– 3rd International Miniature Art Exhibition, Toronto
– 5th Biennial of Nature Photography, City Cultural Center, Brno
1987 – City, The Brno House of Arts, Brno
– Actual Photography 2 /Instant/, Moravian Gallery, Brno
1986 – Elementary Photography, Štětín
– Less, Gallery F, Banská Bystrica /rerun in Gallery 4, Cheb/
1985 – Contemporary Czech Photography, Tokio
– 27 Contemporary photographers from Czechoslavakia, The Photographers´ Gallery, London
1984 – Fotografia in Cechoslovacchia,Nuove tendenze, Galleria San Fedele, Milan
– Generation 70, Fotochema Exhibition Hall, Prague
1983 – R.I.P. Arles, audiovisual program, Arles
1982 – Actual Photography, Moravian Gallery, Brno
– Bieniele internationale di Fotografia, Caserta
1978 – Small Formats, Warsaw
1973 – Czechoslovak Photography 1971–72, Moravian Gallery, Brno
1972 – Fotografica Academica, PKO Exhibition Hall, Pardubice
1971 – Juniorfoto, Small Castle Gallery, Teplice