The Czech Republic has long been a land of mystery and magic, home to alchemists, artists, and the original bohemians, all of them weavers of spells, creators of fantastic worlds of the imagination. Internationally famous Czech photographer Jan Saudek is no exception, and equally as uncompromising in pursuit of his own unique vision. For over four decades Saudek has created a parallel photographic universe, a two-dimensional home full of longing, peopled with the most extraordinary characters and colored by desire. The timeless strength of his hand-tinted photographs lies in their poetic compositions and their forceful—at times ribald—pictorial language, with its overtones of medieval genre pictures and Baroque mythology. Rejecting the traditional beauty in his famous nude photographs, Saudek shows the distinctively different: old women, fat women, children; real people in tableaux vivants that remind us of everything from surreal early movies to fin-de-siecle carnival nights. They exist outside time, a uniquely colored and almost mythical theater of dreams. Covering his debut in the 1950s through his lesser-known work to recent images, this dazzling collection offers us the true "velvet revolution," fertile and unsettling images from the dreams we might still have.
Daniela Mrázková, critic and editor of the Czech magazines Revue fotografie and Fotografie-Magazín, is the author of sixteen books on photography published in the Czech Republic and abroad, and the curator of around fifty photography exhibitions. She has been a member of international juries, and has authored film and television documentaries on photography and photographers. She has followed Jan Saudek`s work since his early years and is the author of Saudek`s first Czech monograph, The Theatre of Life.