A retrospective exhibition of the Czech photographer Milon Novotny who would have celebrated his 90thbirthday this year. Novotny, who died in 1992, is considered a pioneer and outstanding representative of the 20th century Czech humanistic photography. Novotny was a photographic poet of everyday life, seeing and capturing deep human contents in seemingly banal scenes.
Milon Novotny (1930 – 1992) belongs to the generation influenced by E. Steichen’s legendary exhibition The Family of Man. Similarly to H. Cartier-Bresson, his photographs were exclusively black and white, he worked solely using a Leica camera and was a practitioner of the so called “decisive moment”. Although we can find photographs capturing the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia or the funeral of Jan Palach amongst Novotny’s work, his main focus was not reportage. Novotny was a photographical poet of the everyday, his photographs beam with empathy for the situation in front of his camera, with the ability to see beyond the seeming everydayness and his talent to rapidly identify the most fitting moment and detail.
Milon Novotny’s family of origin was a simple and rural one; his childhood was set in his hometown Stetovice in Moravia. Later he commuted to a grammar school in Prostejov. In his final year of high school he fell very ill with a lung disease and spent a year recovering in Novy Smokovec. It was in this period of existentialist uncertainty that he received his first camera; in that moment, his future was more or less decided. His first exhibition took place in 1956 in Olomouc. The young photographer travelled to Prague to ask the then sixty year old Josef Sudek for help with selecting photographs and writing Novotny’s exhibition a recommendation. A lifelong friendship developed between the two photographers and thanks to Josef Sudek, Milon met the prominent photography scholar Jiri Jenicek who immediately recognized exceptional talent in the young keen photographer. In 1957 Milon moved to Prague permanently, married the beautiful seamstress Alena and began collaborating and publishing in Literary and Theatre newspapers and magazines Theatre and Culture. He captured the beginnings of Laterna magika, photographed in the Na Zabradli theatre and later alongside with the painter and friend Libor Fara created an original and modern style to the Cinoherni (Drama) Club and its propagation materials. He published around five hundred photographs yearly with most of his royalties spent on travelling. Sixties were Milon’s most fruitful and successful life period that culminated in the now legendary publication London in 1968.
In the 70s and 80s, Literary newspaper to which Milon contributed for years ceased to be published and his photographs gradually disappeared from the pages of other newspapers and magazines. Milon Novotny was relegated to the sidelines like many other prominent figures of Czech culture and he was barred from photographing in theatres. Spending most of his time with his family in their Prysk dacha, he photographed the countrymen from this village in the north of Czech republic, which formed the focus of his work during the normalization period. He made a living by working with the Association of Czech Composers and Concert Artists, namely by portraiting musicians, which didn’t come close to fulfilling his creative ambitions. Nevertheless, even these photographs reveal a sensitive photographer’s touch. The extensive set of portrait negatives is currently stored in the archives of the National Museum.
After the Velvet revolution in November 1989, Milon Novotny was again travelling the world. He celebrated his sixtieth birthday and it seemed as if the upswing of his photographic potential was unstoppable. Unfortunately, he was only granted another two and a half years of life. The few magnificent photographs that he brought back from his last few journeys are a proof that he upheld the reputation as one of the most prominent Czech documentary photographers until his last days.
1930 Milon Novotny is born on the 11th of April in Stetovice in Hanakia. His father is a locksmith working all life for the sugar factory in the neighbouring town Vrbatky. His mother occasionally lends a hand with field work while raising a son and a daughter.
1948-49 After turning eighteen, Milon falls ill with an infectious joint rheumatism and a lung disease. Instead of completing high school he spends a year rehabilitating in High Tatras. He is enchanted by the surrounding literature and visual art. He begins photographing on a borrowed camera.
1954 Beginnings of serious work; Milon photographs the activities painters usually busied themselves with before photographic technology allowed for rapid exposure.
1956 Exhibition debut in Olomouc, the historical metropolis of Milon’s home Moravia. His work is an upsurge for the Gallery of the Union of Czechoslovak Fine Artists. The catalogue text is written by more than a decade older colleague Jiri Janecek, who considers Novotny a homo novus. Janecek also recommends Novotny to his peer Josef Sudek. This gives rise to a years-long friendship.
1957 The weekly magazine Culture publishes Novotny’s photograph on its title page. Novotny relocates permanently to Prague.
1958 On June 5th Novotny marries Alena Hronikova. He becomes a candidate of the Union of Czechoslovak Fine Artists. He switches from the classical Rolleiflex camera and the negative format 6x6cm to a film roll Leica. From late 50s Novotny photographs for a wide range of magazines and documents theatre for more than two decades.
1962 First son Marek is born.
1964 First short trip to London.
1965 Beginning of intensive collaboration with the recently founded Cinoherni klub (Drama club) theatre.
1966 Novotny is accepted as a full member of the Union of Czechoslovakian Fine Artists. He contributes substantially to the collective image book New York. Throughout mere three weeks he takes the majority of the London photographs.
1968 First publication of London. Expectations are high not only in London or Prague, where the work was initially published by the publisher Mlada fronta, but in other places across the globe. London soon disappears from the shelves of Czechoslovak bookshops and despite the high volume of initial prints – eight thousand – it can be found only rarely in the display cases of second hand bookshops. The work was not coveted only for its masterful photography; London was also a symbol of the free world. Novotny’s work on Prague Spring culminates with him graciously giving foreign newspapers the negatives capturing the August occupation of Czechoslovakia by communist armies led by the Soviets. The period of Novotny publishing more than 500 photographs annually is coming to an end.
1969 Novotny’s photographs from the funeral of Jan Palach, a student who burned himself alive in protest against soviet occupation, grow into a parable about the end of an extraordinary decade. In the 70s Novotny continues working with the Czechoslovak academy of sciences, and he photographs for the Union of Czech composers and concert artists. He mostly contributes photographs to the magazines Gramorevue and Musical Views. He is so self-critical that he destroys bespoke negatives after use.
1975 The album ČSSR (Czechoslovak socialist republic) is published, to which Novotny contributed with a multitude of black-and-white and colour photographs. The escalation of totalitarian repression following 70s and 80s means that London’s lightness and freedom cannot be repeated.
1989 Novotny finds himself in the streets of Prague again while photographing the Velvet revolution.
1991-92 Photographic journeys to the USA.
1992 After a brief illness, Novotny passes away in a Prague hospital on August 9th.
2000 The monograph Milon Novotny: Photographs arranged by Dana Kyndrova reminds Novotny’s flagship project London with more than a quarter of reproductions.
2010 The retrospective exhibition to what would have been the photographer’s 80th birthday is debuted in the Old Town Hall in Prague. Novotny’s creative humanism is demonstrated in the words of the critic Jiri Penas: “People captured in the photographs make one wonder what happened with their destinies, how did their lives unravel afterwards, what happened to them, if and how do they live.” (Where did all those people go?, Lidove noviny, 17. 4. 2010.)
2014 London exhibition in Leica Gallery Prague.
2020 The book Musicians 70s-80s containing previously unpublished photographs of important personalities of the Czech philharmonic is published by Kant.
The collage collection Universal is a playful experiment examining the universality of elements that form our cities, our world. The photographs mostly taken in Prague are deconstructed and later re-built into a new parallel space. Every element in this collection is comprised of multiple versions of itself which are juxtaposed in an egalitarian fashion without judgment. This gives rise to a city which is imperfect and non-pristine, but is open, without prejudice and racism, where different cultures and social forces freely mix.
I have adored collages since I was a child, and the infinite possibilities of this visual play and it’s meanings fascinate me to this day. The disassembly and re-construction of an image gives rise to many stories and reflections. For this collection, the questions of “What is the universal essence of a city and how can I define it” emerged. For me a city isn’t comprised of only streets, stones, street lamps and houses, but it is also formed by nature and most importantly by people who give cities meaning and life. After all, even trash photographed on the streets can spark imagination.
Michaela Pospisilova Kralova, author
Michaela Pospíšilová Králová is a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and photographer. Born in Prague in 1982, she began her training at the Secondary School of Textile Arts and then studied book design at the Hellich Higher Vocational School of Graphic Arts. In 2012 she completed her bachelor studies at Opava’s Institute of Creative Photography.
Michaela expresses herself through a wide range of artistic styles; reveling in the possibilities that the blending of photography, painting, drawing, graphic design and embroidery open up. She loves photography for its ability to clearly present the initial objective, for the function of the human memory assigned to it. She also appreciates its openness to further changes and interventions. Michaela works with the photographic archive for a long time. Following her own creative path, rather than passing trends, her work takes its inspiration from the themes that surround her and resonate within.
In 2012, Michaela was awarded the ‘Prize of the Leica Gallery Prague’ (as part of its Frame competition). Named as one of the ‘10 Must-Know Contemporary Czech Artists’ by theculturetrip.com magazine in 2015.
Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Anne first studied Interior Design at the International Academy of Design in Toronto and subsequently, photography, serigraphy, and fabric design at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto.
At that instant, she started to become intrigued with and eventually specialized in extreme forms of analog experimental photography and printing.
Even back then, her curiosity for finding original ways to treat and print negatives was apparent.
‘I have always been attracted to the combination of colours, patterns, and movement, questioning myself how I could distort these elements in unconventional ways. My present photographic work, I feel, is a modern form of collage in which my work process involves the adding and subtracting of data layers from my scanner and my Leica D-Lux 4. The combination of different levels of transparency does not solely give a final, surreal imagery composition but also results in each final image becoming an original. Similar to nature ́s configurations. Some of my final photographs consist of over 70 single images in total.’
‘My continual project on Botanical Portraits is something that I have been working on for the last six years. My main desire is to create one single image of each plant species and technically ‘freeze’ that first, extraordinary moment in which I saw that plant.’
To stop time.
‘With this project, I hope to redefine botanical photography to produce images that are modern, dynamic, and unprecedented. ́
The photography collection is an homage to all were and stayed young, had wanderlust in their hearts and were drawn to sleeping under the stars. Regardless of whether they called themselves tramps, woodcrafters, wanderers, vagrants, cowboys or whether they eventually fastened a satellite to their roofs, they all became a part of almost exclusively Czechoslovak phenomenon of tramping, which is considered to be Czechia’s largest subculture.
The project captures the tramps’ lives in Bohemia and Moravia with the aim to document this specific subculture, since there is currently no comprehensive visual testament of this Czech phenomenon. The project is akin to field research, photographed across various regions of the Czech republic. Tramping, inspired by the League of Forrest Wisdom, woodcraft, scouting and America’s Wild West, became Czechoslovakia’s alternative movement, bitterly tolerated by the time’s socio-political regime. The term tramp or wonderer is on one hand based on Jack London’s novels’ depictions of an individual not abiding by societal norms and living on the fringes of society. On the other hand, it is a movement based on friendship, togetherness, strong connection with nature and distancing oneself from a consumerist lifestyle and the bourgeoise. Due to the changes in societal norms and political regime, the movement underwent a transformation and a revival, and continues to exist in some form to this day. The culmination of the project is a book, exhibition and a short documentary film.
Tomas Pospech, the curator
Libor Fojtik (*1977) is a graduate of master’s studies at the Institute of Creative Photography at FPF Silesian University in Opava. In his freelance work he mainly focuses on documentary and arranged photography. His documentary collections originate from long term journeys in countries such as Japan, India, Russia, Vietnam, Mongolia, New Zealand and more. Some of his Czech series focus on themes of consumerism and societal change, environment, the absurdity of everyday life, etc. In 2007 Fojtik became a photoreporter for the ISIFA photoagency. He works as a photographer for the Hospodarske newspaper since 2009. In the past he taught yearlong courses and photography workshops for the Institute of Digital Photography in Prague. His series Absurdistan – my home won the first prize in the FRAME photography competition and first prize in Czech Press Photo 2010’s category Everyday life. He was among the 60 finalists in the international LUMIX Photofestival in Hannover, a competition of young photojournalists. He authored multiple independent and collective exhibitions across the Czech republic and Europe.
The Polish photographer Kuba Kamiński (*1985) repeatedly returns to Polish Podlesi and to Belarus where he immortalizes the life and work of local healers that call themselves “the whisperers”. Kamiński worked as a war photoreporter for a number of years and this collection of photographs is among one of his most personal projects. The series of black and white photos that combine reportage approach with visual symbolism won second place in The Best of Photojournalism competition and the Polish Grand Press Photo prize.
Shamanesses in the heart of central Europe
The whisperers believe they have a gift from God. They can banish pain, cure infections or remedy infertility. They are seen by people with nightmares, stutters or excessive shyness. By ones who need to avert curses or find peace for loved ones who passed away but whose souls haven’t found rest. Everybody has a different ailment. And each ailment needs a different incantation. The whisperers work through murmurs. Central Europe’s shamanesses follow in the footsteps of old traditions still alive partly due to the fact that Podlesí has always been on the periphery of interest. The historical region located on the Polish-Belarusian border is a place of deep forests where ethnicities, traditions, languages and faiths mix. As revealed by the icons in the corners, Eastern Rite prayer books and cemeteries filled by typical crosses, the whisperers avow themselves to the Eastern Orthodox Church. A church that distances itself from them, because it deems their rituals too pagan-like.
The whisperers cure anyone who asks for their help, regardless of religious affiliation. They only have one condition: the patient must have faith in the treatment. They require cooperation and willingness to use their imagination. The bizarre-looking rituals in which traditional natural materials such as linen, ash or wax are used have a single purpose; to symbolically materialize ailments or evil spirits who will then dissolve in water, dissipate into ash or burn through piece of linen ball placed on the patient’s head. It is first covered by a piece of cloth for the sake of safety. The majority of whisperers are old women, but exceptionally men can be found among them. They receive their regular patients in their homes, on pilgrimage or in other way special places. As a rule they don’t accept payment and refuse to curse or otherwise hurt anyone. They could, but it would be dangerous; curses often return to the one who wishes harm onto another.
The photographer Kuba Kamiński has been capturing Podlesí’s healers for a years. At first he was accompanied by an ethnologist fluent in the local dialect who became his guide. With time young Kamiński, most often carrying a Leica M9 camera, gained the locals’ trust and began returning alone. Kamiński worked as a war reporter for many years and this photograph collection is among his most personal ones. The two part series of black and white photographs that combines photojournalistic approach with symbolic images was awarded second prize in The Best of Photojournalism (2015) and Polish Grand Press Photo (2012) competitions.
Marie Iljasenko, curator
the wild east
old people, like apples on an apple tree, are waiting for the wind
they bury the young under the tree
there the earth will lick them, will lick clean
their wounds like stubble-fields
wounds, his mother told him, his grandmother told him
no one said a word
the others departed more slowly
as if fearing what would be taken from them
fearing they wouldn’t be buried right
they await anxiously
people in forests were howling, howling long into the night
Kasia Szweda: Bosorka, 2020
(translated by Lynn Suh)
Kuba Kamiński (*1985) comes from Warsaw. As a graduate of photography from Lodz Film School, laureate of the Ryszard Kapuściński award, Grand Press Photo and the Grant Prix price in the National Geographic competition, he is one of the most promising photojournalist of the Polish young generation. He got his start as a newspaper journalist, he worked for the Polish press office PAP and for the prestigious magazine Rzeczpospolita. Today he works at East News agency, amongst others. He profiled himself as a war reporter, known for his reportage collection capturing the war in Libya, annexation of Crimea and the everyday life in Gaza. He is also interested in societal themes, recently he introduced a black and white photograph collection based on Japan’s Tokyo that explores the changing attitudes to work. He is currently still working on his collection The Whisperers that won second prizes in The Best of Photojournalism (2015) and Polish Grand Press Photo (2012) competitions.
Marie Ilyashenko (*1983) is a poetess, writer and editor. Her 2015 debut collection Osip Headed South was nominated for the Magnesia Litera prize, in 2019 she published a collection St. Outdoor. She was nominated for the Dresden Prize of Lyric and the Vaclav Burian prize for her poetry work. She also writes short prose and translates from Polish, Ukrainian and Russian.
She lives in Prague.
Katarzyna Szweda (*1990) is a poet and photographer originally from Low Beskids. She’s a graduate of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. She is a winner of the projects “Połów 2017“ and “First collection of poems 2020” through which her debut poetry collection Bosorka was published.
A group of six distinct personalities of Czech photography drew inspiration from the cross-country skiing competition Jizerska 50 that became the motive of their collective exhibition, each capturing the event through a unique visual conceptualization.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO THE EXHIBITION HERE
Jan Sibik (*1963) captured the event with his characteristic reportage style, although he has never actively pursued sport photography before. His black and white photographs treat the event as a story of a competition filled with struggles and joys experienced by its contestants. Quite the opposite, Marketa Navratilova (*1972) specializes in sport photography; she knows exactly which angle to use to create an emotionally charged photographic narration able to capture the unique dynamic of this winter sport. Jiri Langpaul (*1974) is the only one of the six who has been photographing Jizerska 50 for a number of years. He repeatedly returns to Jizerske mountains to take portrait photographs of the contestants; some of them amateurs, professionals, men and women of all ages and performance categories. Unlike Langpaul, Tomas Vocelka (*1965) perceives Jizerska 50 as a whole from a birds-eye view enabled by photographing from above from a small sport airplane. This gives rise to very strong compositions where the zigzagging snake of contestants forms a compact image with the surrounding nature. Daniel Hustak (*1990) has an entirely different approach to photography. He composes the overall feeling from singularities, maybe even redundancies, from small items and minimalistic aspects that all together form the competition. His photographs are visually minimalistic, very clean and devoid of any concrete people. The last artist of the six is an distinct personality of nude and fashion photography. Lukas Dvorak (*1982) doesn’t photograph at the event of the competition, he seeks to capture his perception of the race through the beauty and perfection that is a woman’s body; a body full of life and energy, life and energy which can also be found in each and every one of the contestants of this difficult and beautiful race.
A retrospective exhibition of the Czech photographer Milon Novotny who would have celebrated his 90thbirthday this year. Novotny, who died in 1992, is considered a pioneer and outstanding representative of the 20th century Czech humanistic photography. Novotny was a photographic poet of everyday life, seeing and capturing deep human contents in seemingly banal scenes.
Free Cinema is a talent and education company that has been hosting successful film, animation and photography courses and workshops across the Czech Republic for eight years. One of the programmes that the company offers is a course of analogue photography for children called Little photographers. The idea that lead to the course’s creation four years ago was to teach children to think about photography and not to furiously and thoughtlessly press the shutter, like many do when taking pictures on a smartphone. Tereza, Alexandra and Bara, film studies classmates and avid photographers, familiarize children with analogue photography, traditional cameras, funky plastic Lomography cameras or with wood camera sliders. They teach the little enthusiasts how to load film into the camera, how to set up the aperture, how to focus correctly, but first and foremost they teach the children how to slow down – to sit in front of the photographed object and think about whether everything is visually pleasant enough for a unique photograph to be created. If so, children further think about how to construct the particular photograph in terms of composition and their own feeling.
Photography is a process worth enjoying fully from the beginning to the end. That is why the lecturers place emphasis on the creative process and give the children the space to relish it. This process is further supported by the characteristics of analogue photography which demands patience in the form of waiting for the final photograph for a number of days. In some ways, the final product is secondary. To experience analogue photography fully is to be to be cognizant of the present, to examine one’s surrounding, to discover the moment’s magic and to wait. “It sometimes happens that a child returns with a camera within five minutes saying they’re done. What we do is we give the camera back to them, telling them that they have plenty of time but that they can only take a single photo. Just one. The little photographer then thinks harder about what to photograph. Then we ask what they photographed and why, and through that we can already estimate what will be the photograph’s atmosphere and message. We then discuss this with the child,” says a lecturer about the process of photography that takes place during the course.
The child doesn’t learn how to correctly set up the time or aperture during the three hour course, that takes more opportunities to gain experience, but they do learn how to slow down and think during the creative process. How to come closer, how to broach a conversation with an interesting stranger we would like to photograph, how to think about composition, light and shadows. With analogue photography, each press of the shutter results in a single photograph and the children are aware of the difference between this and photographing digitally, where they can pick the best photo out of twenty similar ones and discard the rest through pressing a button. Often the children rewind the film incorrectly or expose it to light which teaches them that in analogue photography success is never guaranteed.
Children are overwhelmed by mostly perfect photographs from the internet – for example from Instagram, if they’re allowed to use it. In Little photographers course children are encouraged to find uniqueness and beauty in imperfection.
In the second half of the course the children get to try working in a dark chamber and exposing photograms. Through this they learn that the process of photography is nowhere near finished when they press the shutter.
Lecturer Tereza is currently working on a book that will guide children through analogue photography with more detail.
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.
Michael W. Pospíšil was born in 1955 as a Czech and later also accepted French citizenship.
As a child he acted in multiple important czech films, such as in Vojtěch Jasný’s When the Tomcat Comes and in Karel Zeman’s The Stolen Airship.
After graduating from the prestigious Film Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in 1980 he moved to France to live with his french wife Marie-Paule.
There he worked as a director, producer, scriptwriter, editor and director of photography for french TV stations, various large companies and state offices. In 2000 he began his career in cultural diplomacy when he became the director of the Czech Center in Paris (2000 – 2007 and 2011 – 2016) and in Sofia (2007 – 2009) and later became the general director of the Czech Centre network (2009 – 2011). In 2005 he was awarded The French Order of Arts and Letters.
In 2016 Michael W. Pospíšil returns to Prague – in total he lived 31 years in France and 31 years in the Czech republic.
Photography has been his passion since early childhood. After multiple exhibitions in France and Czech republic, this year marks his first photography monograph Paris, Prague, etc… published by KANT. It is a selection of images from the last seven years, predominantly from Paris and Prague, but also from other cities and countries.
The exhibition Paris, etc… shows a collection of photographs from Paris. Simultaneously the French institute in Prague is exhibiting a collection of photographs titled Prague, etc… (from May 19th till July 4th 2020).
This autumn Michael W. Pospíšil will introduce a large exhibition Paris, Prague, etc… in the G 4 gallery in Cheb.
Michael sees more than most people. His photographs of the city’s hidden corners, patterns on flaking walls, fleeting encounters in bars and cafés, multiple street scenes reflected in windows, or seemingly ordinary objects and things that we pass without noticing possess not only unquestioned artistic value, but also provide the viewer with room for personal interpretation. Although Pospíšil does not deny his education as a documentary filmmaker nor his experience with humanist photojournalism, some of his images are quite abstract. Pospíšil’s photographs can also be described as distinctive journal entries through which he has found a way of sharing his worldly experiences. This unique book of distinctive color and black-and-white photographs also features an interview with their equally remarkable and distinctive creator.
(Prof. Vladimír Birgus)
“I began photographing the autoportrait series in 2012 when I first started experimenting with levitation and surreal photography. I was attempting to visualize my relationship with nature and how I feel when I’m in it. Gradually I started to broaden the concept of the portraits. One time I found an old TV by the trash cans and I decided that I will put it in place of my head. I wanted to point out that the outside world offers the best television programme I’ve ever heard of and it indicates my position on television broadcasting in general. In time, the TV completely fell apart, so I knew I’d have to mend it up and exhibit it somewhere; for me it’s a legend. I collect old phones, old mirrors and I always want just one thing for or from them; to put them back in the game for at least a while through an interesting photography. I like this type of photography because it’s the best way to let off steam and it can also be a challenge. I like to push my boundaries, sometimes I’m poignant in pointing something out and I’m always amused by the end result. If I had to say which autoportraits entertain me the most, it’s definitely the ones where I am by the side of my dog love, Boony.”
Petr Hricko was born in Teplice in 1976. His journey towards photography is an unexpected one. As he was twenty-seven years old, he was told he has cancer… When he was staying in the hospital, one of his friends brought him a camera to distract him and that was the moment. Hricko began learning how to photograph and slowly started forgetting about his illness. It was the best therapy one could imagine. Later on, when he was leaving the hospital, he knew that he would never stop photographing. He found a new life style. Ever since 2012, Hricko photographs professionally.
Amongst his favourite subjects of photography are nature, levitations, stories or capturing the atmosphere of the street.
If you’ve ever come across Hricko’s work, it’s very unlikely you’d mistake it for someone else’s. The characteristic light blue overtone of his photographs, magical atmosphere seeping from the images, the captivating expressions in the eyes of the subjects and the unbelievable outlook into nature’s beauty. That’s the world how Petr sees it through the viewfinder of his camera, and it won’t leave you without an emotional response.
When you go to see a ballet performance at the National Theatre, you’re mesmerised by the beautiful ballerinas and dancers. They move around the stage with a smile, grace, elegance and confidence. But have you ever considered how much sweat, work and pain is behind the performance that plays before your eyes? This exhibition brings an insight into the backstage of our most important ballet ensemble.
Martin began photographing ballet in 2010 through a high school friend. At that time Prague’s National Opera needed a photographer to immortalize the Sleeping Beauty production. Martin comments this by saying; “I’ve never photographed dance or ballet before, but I like trying new things and I found myself really enjoying it. Especially if one can witness how much work ballet really is, one really wants to give them a round of applause! Later on, I got the opportunity to work with the Ballet of the National Theatre. To me it’s fascinating to see the creation of the productions, to see the hard work of the dancers who are basically making a living through their hobby. Most people say to themselves; we’re going to the theatre. But no one realizes that it’s not only a group of enthusiasts dancing on the stage, it’s also a group of professionals who have been working hard since their childhood to be able to dance in such an important ensemble. I like theatre backstage, that strange magic that parts of the theatre that aren’t open to the public have.”
Martin Divisek was born in Prague on the 11th of May, 1985. He became an avid photographer in elementary school and a few years later his grandfather bought him the classical Exa SLR film strip camera.
He graduated from the Secondary Industrial School of Communication Technology and later spent a few years studying at the Higher Vocational School of Journalism. During his studies, he contributed to the Šíp journal. In 2006, he began working in Prague’s Central Publishing House for Regional Journals that covered news regarding mostly politics, sports and culture. At this moment, he also photographs for the international journalistic European Pressphoto Agency. He has worked closely with the Ballet of the National Theatre for over eight years.
He likes to spend his free time in the nature or at the mountains. He is married and has a son.
2011 – Czech Press Photo, Special Recognition in the “Sport” category
2013 – Czech Press Photo, 2nd place in the category of “People who are talked about”
2014 – Czech Press Photo, Audience Award and Special Recognition in the “Reportage” category
2015 – Getty Images European Editorial Awards – 3rd place in the “News Portfolio of the Year” category
2016 – Czech Press Photo, finalist nomination in the “Current’s Day Problems” category
2018 – Czech Press Photo, finalist nomination in the “Culture and Arts” category