Fundacion MAPFRE presents Jitka Hanzlova photographs exhibition

Fundacion MAPFRE presents the most comprehensive international retrospective on photographer Jitka Hanzlová (Náchod, Czech Republic, 1958), whose work captures the essence of people, nature, and objects by exploring their interrelations and cross-tensions. Exhibition on view through 2 September 2012.

Born in 1958 in the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia, in 1982 Hanzlová fled her home country’s communist regime and settled in Essen, Germany. This status as an exile has defined her entire artistic career. Between 1987 and 1994 she studied visual communication at the University of Essen, specialising in photography.

Jitka Hanzlová, Untitled, from the series There is Something I Don´t Know, 2007. © the artist

Hanzlová’s work revolves around different series in which she reflects on her own life experiences, offers her personal vision of specific places, and examines how different themes have traditionally been represented in art.

This show produced by FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE features her most representative series as well as three brand-new projects: There is Something I Don’t Know, Horses, and Flowers.

With a total of nine series and 142 photographs, the show is organised chronologically and offers a coherent overview of Hanzlová’s output over the last 20 years:

Rokytník (1990–1994)
Rokytník is named after the Bohemian village where the artist grew up. After the fall of communism in 1989, Hanzlová returned to her childhood home and captured a distant, strange past, a place where time seemed to have stood still.

Bewohner (1994–1996)
As a counterpoint to Rokytník, the Bewohner [Inhabitant] series explores life in the big city, particularly Hanzlová’s adopted home of Essen. These images show isolated, uprooted figures and landscapes in which human intervention serves as a metaphor for a life constrained by obstacles and boundaries.

Brixton (2002)
In 2002 the Photographer’s Gallery in London invited Hanzlová to work in Brixton, a marginal district of the city notorious for its racial conflicts. There she focused on three generations of Afro-Caribbean women by creating individualised portraits that highlight the women’s concerns, desires, and thoughts, captured by the artist in a fleeting encounter.

Forest (2000–2005)
After a decade of concentrating on people, the artist changed tack with Forest, a series about the Czech woodlands of her childhood. These photographs reveal her personal connection to the place and the search for her own identity in this natural landscape.

Here (1998, 2003–2010)
In Here, Hanzlová returns to her immediate surroundings to reflect on the sensation of not belonging. Thus, her subjects appear as intruders in their own contexts, deeply affected by urban and industrial development, and their relationship with the environment becomes a permanent conflict.

Cotton Rose (2004–2006)
In 2004 Jitka Hanzlová was invited to participate in the project European Eyes on Japan and offer her personal vision of the Asian country. Cotton Rose is the result of her travels through the Gifu prefecture over two years and shows people living in harmony with the landscape. Although these images shun the typical, exotic vision of Japan, they nevertheless capture the country’s unique essence.

There is Something I Don’t Know (2000–2012)
This series is the culmination of Hanzlová’s interest in portraiture: through meticulous research, she draws parallels between her models and the evolution of the portraiture tradition since the Renaissance. The poses in these compositions are more studied, and once again the ultimate effect is the individualistic representation of human beings. The last part of the series was commissioned by FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE for this exhibition.

Horses (2007– )
In Horses, a work in progress, Hanzlová tackles the difficult task of portraying these animals, establishing a relationship with her models which, as in her series on people, allows her to capture the essence of their existence.

Flowers (2008– )
Flowers, another work in progress, adopts the form of vanitas: cut flowers in different stages of their lives as a metaphor for transformation and constant change. In this series, Hanzlová takes inspiration from the pictorial tradition rather than from the numerous 20th-century photographs which have portrayed flowers as sexual organs.

The exhibition will travel to Edinburgh next October (National Galleries of Scotland).

Curated by Isabel Tejeda.

Avenida General Perón, 40
28020 Madrid
Hours: Mon, 2–9pm
Tue–Sat, 10–9pm
Sun and bank holidays, 12–8pm
Free entrance
T +34 91 5811628

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