December 10th – December 16th, 2016
Jan Saudek, born May 13, 1935, Prague
Alan Pajer, born July 12, 1948, Děčín
Antonín Kratochvíl, born April 12, 1947, Lovosice
In bringing together these three contemporary Czech photographers, Van Der Plas Gallery presents, to the New York art world, work of great exuberance and passion. The human being as subject encompasses all. Although Czech photography after World War II has its roots in documentation, evident in Alan Pajer’s images centering on the great Czech President Vaclav Havel, the work of the three photographers presented here is anything but objective. Rather, it can be described as a celebration of the present, and a rejection of the dry, lifeless and restricted “old order.”
Antonín Kratochvíl’s portraits of the stars never repeat the images we know. Rather, they open the door to deeper aspects of character of people we assumed we knew. Here are people vaguely familiar; we want to know who they are, so we look intently at the pictures, searching for clues. Possibly these celebrities are after all just ordinary people, but just as possibly they are much stranger and more unknown than we ever could have guessed.
Alan Pajer presents us with intimate and public portraits of the man beloved by millions worldwide, the political prisoner who in the year of his release was elected President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel. Havel’s wish to not be perceived as a politician intent on being seen meant that Pajer was usually not able to set up standard studio shots and lighting, but resulting from that limitation we have an immediacy and truthfulness befitting this great human rights advocate.
Jan Saudek’s love of sensuality and the theater is evident in every one of his images. Human emotion is displayed before us as truth and fiction wrapped together. We know that we are looking at real people, usually shot in the studio, but the staging appears to be the natural realm of these exotic beings, as if they could not exist anywhere else. We have caught a glimpse of them as they really are, before they resume their ordinary fictitious clothing and manners and go back to everyday life.