7. 11. 2014 - 18. 1. 2015
Although we now live in a free country we are aware that freedom is a constant struggle, and that one must strive for it again and again on many different levels, in our relations to society, to other people, and to ourselves. This is why freedom, as a more or less perceptible yet constant thread in the work of Jan Ságl, is the theme of this exhibition organised on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
Even though Ságl was one of the photographers who actively documented the events after November 1989, the exhibition focuses above all on a selection of works Ságl completed earlier, during the communist rule in Czechoslovakia. Across ten cycles of photographs, often dealing with highly personal themes, viewers will be able to gradually explore various aspects of the search for freedom (be it civil liberty or personal, inner freedom), of the sense of threat or loss to that freedom, and of points of contact with the free world.
The juxtaposition of Ságl’s photographs from the “free” sixties in Czechoslovakia with images from Andy Warhol’s New York City studio The Factory reveals a surprising resemblance, the works are almost interchangeable. The cycles House Search and Polachromes from Křížov, on the other hand, register the tremor of fear triggered by direct encounter with the force of state power and the feeling of isolation in Ságl’s countryside exile. The photographs of Russian nonconformist artists from the late 1960s offer hope that art and freedom of spirit will survive even in the unlikeliest of places and times. The photographs from Paris tell of the artist’s feelings triggered by his first encounter with a free minded and art-loving mecca for artists and a contemporary modern metropolis. The slides Jan Ságl took of the permanent exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, through which he wished to share the story of the development of modern art with people back in Czechoslovakia, immediately betray a thirst to see as much as possible, to capture and pass on. The long journey Jan Ságl (and all of us with him) has had to undertake since then is well illustrated in the cycle of photographs taken during one of Ságl’s now quite frequent journeys around Europe. With absolute freedom and lightness of touch, the photographer captured views along a path as he was returning from the Maillol Museum in Banyuls-sur-Mer, as a self-confident citizen of a free country and a man who no longer needs to prove anything to himself or anyone else. A man who has reached his own highest degree of personal freedom.
– Lenka Bučilová, curator –