In the Realm of Humans: Jaroslav Kučera’s Silent Dialogues

Exhibition running till 2. 4. 2017 @ Leica Gallery Prague

One of the most significant contemporary Czech photographers, Jaroslav Kučera, has explored urban environments of ‘people on the margins’ and through his newest works, he has created intriguing Silent Dialogues. Kučera became most famous for his ‘snapshots’ of the Sudetenland during the nineties which exceptionally captured the loose atmosphere after the fall of the Iron Curtain. His newest exhibition at the Leica Gallery maps ambiguous locations around Prague and is running until this Sunday, 2nd April.

Kučera is known primarily for his unromantic profile of Czechs, including prostitutes, gold-diggers, or losers; however, due to a lack of time in his present schedule, he has made photos to capture the magic of Prague itself. As he has testified: “I began one day on my way from tennis, when I noticed how the air-supported hall is strangely illuminated by the sun, I dived into it and I have been travelling through Prague for two years already.”

When we encounter Kučera’s depictions of the most ordinary of ordinary objects, our minds are reminded of old memories, or emotional and thematic associations. All of the photos in Silent Dialogues were taken with a digital Nikon during 2015 and 2016. Some places are familiar (like the Hilton Hotel), or there are objects that remind us of things we have once seen; others only seem as obscure belongings or habitats of people we will never know. The hidden narrative essence of his black and white photos is enhanced by the curatorial decision of Daniela Mrázková’s to group them in pairs. Try for yourself: a photo of a curled top of a pipeline poking out of a hill on a golf course is hung above an image of an old, used mattress sticking out of a rooftop against a clear sky.

In his latest series, Kučera is following the tradition of Czech Surrealists, such as Jindřich Štýrský, Vilém Reichmann or Emila Medková. However, in his case it not really surrealism, but rather “surbanalism.” Instead of analysing bizarre aspects of reality, he is focusing on the totally banal. Although there are no humans captured in this cycle (except for one blurred walker), their presence seems to be in all of his photographs, anyway. The significance of these trivial images is how well they are able to reflect us, and the time that we are living in. Kučera is thus continuing his focus on people, but offering us a fresh view refined by deserted urban environments.

Jaroslav Kučera (born 1946 in North Bohemia) studied at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague and he only became a free-lance photographer right after graduation. During the first anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969, he was arrested as a dissident and held in Prague’s prison at Pankrác, where he made the decision to become a photographer. Since then, he has photographed commercially for magazines and businesses, but he has also never forgotten about his artistic pursuits. For his most exceptional work he has won many awards, including the Best Photograph of the Year 2000 in the Czech Press Photo competition.

This exhibition is held in honor of Kučera’s 70th birthday, and it shows his continuous growth as one of the most preeminent contemporary photographers in this country.

For more information visit www.lgp.cz

Leica Gallery Prague 
Školská 28 110 00 Praha 1

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