Czech Contemporary Female Photography


Barbora Balkova. From the series "My Grandmas"



My Grandmas




For a long time my grandmas have only been just a hazy memory from my young childhood. I used to know both women only as some sort of a story that is usually perpetuated in families about people who are no more. The grandma Libuse was a general’s daughter, served time in a concentration camp, injected herself insulin, never did the wash-up, worked in brickworks and died of a heart attack, because the grandpa was getting on her nerves. The story of the grandma Jirina; she had a sister who wooed away her lover, she then had to marry the man’s brother, divorced him shortly after, became a black sheep of the respectful family till she eventually married my grandpa and left Moravia for Bohemia where she worked in the needle factory; she embroidered and read books, went mad, stayed mad for twenty more years and then died, because she somewhat surprisingly missed my then already dead grandpa.

 Libuse died when I was only one-year-old; Jirina in my age of six, but then she had been a long time mentally ill so she never talked to me. Both women therefore were rather shadows than real beings who would have shaped me up. Nevertheless, they impact my life much more than it would seem. My world, that natural and self-evident world is created by kaleidoscopic pieces of their lives and their long-past decisions; they form an environment in which I live. Cupboards where I put the tableware, curtains by the windows, glasses from which I drink a toast, tea towels, tablecloths, pictures hanging on the walls, needles and threads, all the little home utensils. Through these things of theirs and mine I have begun looking for my grandmas. For instance, why is there a “Svatobořice” inscription on a small copper heart? And where that peculiar and hand-made doll came from? Why Jirina wrote a three-page letter only to say that she needed a jumper and stockings...

 I have longed to know my grandmas to learn more about them and me as well. I had people telling me about them, pulled out old letters, documents, curricula and photographs. At the same time the idea of a project objectifying my experience and shaping it into the part of my identity was being born. As I could not be with my grandmas, at least I replaced it by an imaginary encounter with them in the photography. I strived to empathies with them in the crucial situations of their lives in the way I read about them and how I understood it. I surrounded myself by their things and tried to symbolically present their dilemmas, feelings, anxieties. What I am aiming for is not stylized self-portraits, nor the portraits of my grandmothers. These are impressions loosely filtered and interpreted by me, “featuring” their stories.

 A picture is a design, in which we have a chance to embrace complexity. For me it is literally a frame, a crate, a stage.

 Grandmas are of interest to me also as part of the “big” history. Their lives were significantly affected by social and political events of the XX century. They were born between the wars, both went through the World War II and their most “productive” age they spent in the difficult era of the nineteen-fifties...


Barbora Balkova. From the series "Masks"





On the photographs you see one and the same face staring forward. The portrait is not characterised by the face itself, but by the mask hiding the face. The masks are made of different materials - biological such as flowers, some food items /ham, bread, sugar, egg/, parts of animals such as feathers or hairs, artificial man-made subjects of a daily use /watches, cake moulds, spectacles, banknotes, lace etc./. To use these in order to create a mask is, true, not a traditional way, however e.g. the tin cake moulds somewhat resemble a real armour of the medieval knights. On the other hand, some materials used are really remote to the idea of the mask one puts on the human face. It is nothing else than a bit odd cover for a head which creation follows rather formal principles of a mask-building, the various materials used in their making demand a different interpretation. Some really work as a kind of an armour protecting a fragile face /like the cake forms, the other rather disclose a face in all its cruelty /like the ham/, evoking a man whose face has been burned with the inner layer of the skin exposed.

I am interested in the mask as something that more or less figuratively belongs to our everyday life. It is some kind of a weapon used in order to defend, protect, deter, but also to lure, to increase an attraction, to amuse, to emphasize emotions and so on.

In Latin Mascus a disguise Make-up of the face or the whole body, adjusting the imitation of the human face or a mythical being appears since the pre-historic times in all cultures. The masks were usually made of wood, bark, clay, metal and other stuff (i.e. the stone as a part of an architecture). As such masks therefore became a part of the rituals and cult dances, also reflected the primary notion of the world, explanation of its natural laws and human efforts to master them. In the modern arts the masks were often related with the theme of a disguise, namely in the socially critical trends.

Born 4th March 1978 in Ceske Budejovice, the Czech Republic. After finishing her secondary school she studied the education of visual arts at Teachers College at the University of South Bohemia. Simultaneously with her ongoing teacher training, she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague where she studied under tuition of Jiri David in the studio of Visual Communication in 2001 and from then until her graduation in 2006 she studied under Veronika Bromova at her studio of the new media. In her work she combines classical elements of paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations with new media. The most typical content and theme of her art is an individual human identity, its experience and variability going through a life. She also focuses on general and political issues dealing with the recent history in the continuity of an individual and collective memory. In 2009 Barbara completed the two years course in artetherapy and artphiletic approach by VVAA Institute under the leadership of Miroslav Huptych.




Bara Prasilova. From the series "Evolve"







Photographs freeze a moment in time, but Prasilova's photography goes beyond this. Even though some images depict hair blown sideways, the effect is of an immobile object. A contrast to the soft reality of hair. The world that each subject inhabits is unnatural. It's too sharp, too precise, too exaggerated to be mistaken for reality.

This, of course, is not by accident. Prasilova has described her process in this interview and others as industrially precise and militaristically disciplined. “I almost never improvise,” says Prasilova. “Each shot is carefully prepared and sketched out beforehand. In the case of a magazine editorial, I work with a storyboard. To fulfill my artistic ideas I often create or order specific tailor-made props. My shots are very static and calm. The shots are often prepared for several hours. Clothes, hair and makeup are arranged within one millimeter accuracy. When the scene is ready, I make a couple of identical shots, mostly options of light and exposure. What I value is perfect lighting, focus and technical perfection. But that's not all. Some shots combine multiple shots. That means that if the shots are taken at the exterior background, there is even more importance put into the perspective, distance, height and angle of the main object. I don't work much with emotions, my models don't move in front of the camera and there is usually total quiet on set.”

This description of her artistic process is revealing. The models, like the other objects, are simply props that have been chosen and positioned with exquisite care by Prasilova. They figure more like dolls in a playhouse than living people.

Prasilova's control extends beyond the photograph. She isn't shy about how much postproduction she applies to her photographs. “A lot,” she says, smiling. “Photography, for me, means creating pictures. Not making photographs. My camera  and  Photoshop  are  just  tools  that  help  me  to  build  my  own  world,  my  own  reality.”

Her work is interesting and unsettling because it's not immediately clear what Prasilova is saying. Although her images are beautiful, they aren't just pretty pictures. Each photograph is a contradiction. Even her process is at odds with the content of the images. The content of her work is playful, but the means by which she creates these images are anything but.

Her work in fashion photography follows her purely artistic work both stylistically and in substance – another extension of her aesthetic. Prasilova explains: “I can only follow my signature style. If someone asks me [to make] a pure commercial I will always imprint my style on those photos even without wishing to do it. This is the little Bara inside of me – I can only play games I really enjoy and I'm still convinced that all these games will be interesting for all the children in the playground.”

Kris Samraj




Bara Prasilova. From the series "Circles"




Bara Prasilova is a photographer, art director and creative conceptualist based in Prague & London. Her work remains on the borderline of commercial and fine art photography. Her clients appreciate her signature style combining absurd humour, alarming beauty, playfulness, mild cruelty as well as her persistent passion for perfection. Her job frequently involves her own demanding props production which she later combines with advantages of digital photography in post production. Both her free artwork and work on commission have been exhibited all over the world and many of them awarded international prizes. Clients that have hired Bara to create photographs or entire campaigns are for instance Vitra, Ikea, The Czech National Theatre, Newsweek magazine and other. Bara`s personal goal is to cultivate beauty and feminine style along with humor and sense of lightness in visual arts.






Mia Köhlerova

kintsukoroi / Prayer to the Goddess of Memory


The fine art Project Kintsukoroi talks about love and death, pain and beauty inspired by japanese pottery philosophy, where Kintsukoroi means - to repair with gold. It is an art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that a piece is more beautiful for having been broken. That “broken” philosophy used for personal life and personal stories, happening around the author and placing all energy into photography. Its more intuitive work that staging photography. These photographs reveal her subconscious in the way she never knew herself before.

Mia is an artistic photographer, with a clear agenda: a confused mixture of instinctive shots, which always seem to capture the hidden archetypes of the subjects she chooses to immortalize, with touches of the antique, from Dutch classical paintings to mythologies and tales of folklore. She has created magical lands of children’s poetical fantasies, in which her ideals and dream like imaginations come to merge her subjects in a fantastical fairyland.Beauty, magic and fantasy come to meet, instinctively, painted with classical couloirs, a guitarist of classical Spanish origins, jamming... based inPrague (Czech Republic) andVienna (Austria).




Dana Kindrova. Zurich, 1993






The pictures were taken from the seventies to the nineties and its aim is to capture the life of a woman in its full variety, from birth to death. The photographs are arranged in such a way that both, the exhibition and the publication, form a kind of life story. Apart from the objective chronology of life's pilgrimage of a human being, or more precisely, of a woman, the photographs perceive the principal life values (love, family, faith), which accompany and influence us during our entire existence. The theme is more or less general; thus the question is not to portray a particular environment or a characteristics of a certain country. One could say the woman portrayed is a „European“ woman.

A substantial part of the photographs was taken in the Czech Republic; some of them originated from Switzerland (in 1993, the author was given a half-year residence grant of Bern canton to explore the theme of woman), France (in 1996, the author obtained a two-month grant of French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the same purpose), as well as from England, Russia, the Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Poland, and Estonia.

Dana Kindrova (b. 1955) earned a degree in Russian and French from the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, and taught at foreign language departments of Czech Polytechnie and the Academy of Performing Arts for twelve years. A freelance photographer in 1973. Her focus has alwas been on humanist pictures in black-and white. She has organised around 50 solo exhubutions of her work in the Czech Republic and aboard, and published some books of her photographs.




Dana Kindrova. Prague, 1975



Portraits of Women


Man in his uniqueness and individuality versus common human motives, common behaviour patterns, common rituals. Daily routines of a man as unique activities as well as variations of the same theme. That is what I intended to express to make portraits of women I know. I faced the question of capturing their behaviour in their various life roles in photography.

A painted portrait develops over a certain period of time, when the artist gradually reaches the universal expression of the polymorphic character of his model, whereas the photography is limited and at the same time empowered by its ability to quick-freeze a specific moment. I attempted to break down the temporal limitations of a snap shot and create a portrait in its deeper characteristics making use of the specific features of photography.

I chose a similar method as Cubists – capturing a man from different points of view within one picture. Thus in the portraits, I characterize women in their personal space inserting there their different forms. However, creating such a portrait means telling a story. The story of mundane daily activities closely connected to personal surroundings. The women are captured not only within their different roles, but also without them when they are entirely themselves. In order to capture such intimacy I had to revisit them again and again till they became oblivious of me. Then it was possible for me and for my camera to sneak into their “personal bubbles” where only the closest ones are allowed. This was the reason for my choosing women I, as a woman, was able to become close to. Thus was created a set of portraits, stories of women’s privacy.

Sylva Francová (1973)studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague as well as Charles University (Faculty of Education), Prague. During her studies she won scholarships to universities in the United Kingdom and in the US. Her photographic projects have been exhibited in the Czech Republic as well as abroad. She is a member of the board of editors at Fotograf magazine and one of the founders of the association Fotograf 07 and has won various awards and grants, for example the Josef Hlávka Award, as well she was winner of the 8th Portfolio Review - Month of Photography in Bratislava. She is also involved in animation, illustration and graphic design and creates Animáček - magazine for small children. She lives and works in Prague.

  Photos of the exhibition © Ekaterina Popova:




Центр фотографии "Март". Екатеринбург. 8 Марта, 1

Время работы: 11.00 - 22.00 без выходных. Цена билета