261009: Galerie Elisabeth und Klaus Thoman: Miroslav Tichy

Galerie Elisabeth und Klaus Thoman: Miroslav Tichy From the archives of a poacher Naturally these pictures confront us with traditional male constructions of a viewpoint. And naturally their context can be described as a voyeuristic structure. Yet reflections of perception, coined by mass media in the direction of paparazzi or stalking, do not offer an adequate form of interpretation for Miroslav Tichy’s photographs. Ever since the psychiatrist and art expert Roman Buxbaum came to terms with these works, and ever since Harald Szemann presented them at the 2004 Seville Biennial, Tichy’s works have undergone an unparalleled boom. Purchases and exhibitions by the Kunsthaus Zurich, the MMK in Frankfurt or the Centré Pompidou drive the boom even further. The evolution of the photos, which appear like tattered excavations from a grubby archive belonging to an obsessed person, is adventurous. For more than three decades the artist, born 1926 in the Moravian town of Kijov, was on the hunt for motives. He took photos of women in sexualized positions or those evoking erotic fantasies with his self-constructed cameras from of a hidden view. Every day, he developed up to 60 prints out of 100 to 200 negatives. The vast number of pictures, and foremost the repressive conditions, which prevailed in socialist Czechoslovakia, lead to a maze of explanations for the genesis of the mysterious oeuvre. According to the Canadian theoretician Clint Burnham, the key lies in the dyad of sex and politics. Following his studies at the Art Academy in Prague from 1946 to 1948, Tichy opposed the new cultural policies and their doctrine of socialist realism; and against the propaganda of technological progress. Obstinately he turned to his “studies” of the female body, as the academies abolished nude drawings. He operated with primitive equipment beyond the paradigms of industrial and ideological armament. Following the presentation of some of his works at the “City of Woman” exhibit at the Salzburg Fotohof Gallery in 2007, the Gallery Elisabeth and Klaus Thoman now organized Tichy’s first solo exhibition in Austria. The pictures perturb. Also because their framing and fragile materiality remind of photography as a formerly tangible media. They confront us with the insecure status of the media. At the same time, we are unmasked as voyeurs; both in line with sexuality and in general, and as an obscene urge, to constantly transform reality into floating pictures. But one must keep in mind that Tichy's works depict self-conscious, sometimes cheeky girls and women, who have one thing in common: they do not work. Tichy began to paint in the Czech scene and in 1954, he founded the Brnenska Peta (Brno Five) group with his friends. Ever since he announced his first solo exhibit he was exposed to persecution and observation and was most probably tortured. The gloomy film portrait by Nataa von Kopp “Worldstar” (2007) documents that the 83-year old has given up on life in the midst of his humid rooms piled with photos. He makes practically no attempt to take part in his late fame. This makes the transformation process of Tichy’s photographs on the levels of art industry and market to an irritating endeavour. All of these cracks and depths in Miroslav Tichy’s work bring up numerous fundamental questions. By Roland Schöny Galerie Elisabeth und Klaus Thoman? 6020 Innsbruck, Maria-Theresien Straße 34, until 04.11.2009 www.galeriethoman.at

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