Museum exhibition

Viktor Kolář: Contemporary 1989-2022

400 ASA Gallery, Praha, Czech Republic
22 April - 24 June 2022

The name of Viktor Kolář is tightly tied with Ostrava. It is tied with people and their incessant movement, as well as with their staled loneliness in the streets and squares of this industrial region. Through them, he not only captured the universal story transcending the city, but he also transformed the genre of documentary photography itself. The stories captured in his photos are sometimes alarming, but more often existential, civil, and poetic. “He lived abroad for long enough to see his country, and especially his home town Ostrava, in a global context. The price he paid for his return – the experience of an immigrant in his own motherland – enabled him to see his hometown in a new surprising perspective,” as the writer Jan Balabán wrote about Viktor Kolář.

Some of his works capturing day to day lives of inhabitants of Ostrava in the sixties, the seventies and the eighties, as well as in the revolutionary nineties, became quite iconic. After the year 1989, Viktor Kolář started looking for new stories and later moved to digital photography.

The exhibition in the 400 ASA gallery is titled “contemporary”. It is because the exhibition introduces works from the beginning of the nineties till now. With the new times, his photos took on a new style of expression, as well as new poetics.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Viktor Kolář started photographing in color. As he says: “I do it to capture this not quite visible, more of a sensed conflict, between real life and its virtual variant. People created the virtual world so they can live better in the contemporary accelerated world – forever leaping ahead, where it is all fragrant and sexy among the abundance of products…”

Viktor Kolář was born in Ostrava in 1941 to a family of a photo studio owner and a photo supplier. He studied at the Pedagogic Institute and in 1964 he had his first exhibition. After the occupation, he left for Canada where he worked at a molybdenum extraction site and in nickel forges in Manitoba. Thanks to art funds he photographed the shopping malls of Montreal, where the Optical Gallery exhibited his works.

In 1973, he returned to Ostrava through Paris and London. Upon his return, he was enticed by the communist police to cooperate and after that he worked as a miner in the new smelter of Klement Gottwald. Through the years 1975 – 1984, he worked as a theater technician in the Petr Bezruč Theater.

Only after the year 1985, he was permitted to freely employ his talents. In 1991, he received the prize of the Mother Jones foundation in San Francisco. In the last 10 years, he has had exhibitions in Basilei, Berlin, Hannover, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Toronto and Torino.

For more information please visit 400 ASA Gallery.

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