You are cordially invited to the opening on Friday, April 29th, 2016, 6 - 9 pm
April 30th, 2016 - July 30th, 2016
ABOUT THE SHOW
Jitka Hanzlová was born in 1958 in Náchod, Czechoslovakia, and has lived in Essen since 1982. Since the middle of the 1990s she has been one of the most important photographic artists in Germany. Hanzlová has achieved international renown with individual exhibitions in institutions such as the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, the Fotomuseum Winterthur, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Museum Folkwang in Essen and, most recently, the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, and has won many other awards.
With her group of works HORSE, 2007-2014, Jitka Hanzlová establishes connections to earlier works in which she consistently linked autobiographical issues with the cultural questions of the development of society and civilization. Just as people during a time of historical change stood at the centre of her first works – in the series Rokytník (1990-94), showing a place in the Czech Republic marked by socialism, or subsequently in Bewohner (1994-96), photographs from different cities in Western Europe – now the horse stands at the centre of her images. In this way, Hanzlová extends the historical perspective of the philosophical considerations that underpin the whole series, taking account of the evolutionary origins of the species.
“Horses are highly developed beings,” writes Jitka Hanzlová, “with a long history that goes back about 50 million years. Their appearance, energy, instincts, elegance and ability to communicate are a form of perfection on four legs. They have found different ways to live and survive, always with respect towards their fellow creatures. Their silence seems to be endless, far away in their own time, in peace, in the here and now. Maybe they are the wild go-between. Between different times, between visible and invisible.”
In her unusual photographs, Jitka Hanzlová not only allows us to share in her experience with horses. Even more, it is as if the perspective of observation wants to flip around, and the individual images also say a great deal about us – about the unconscious within us, beyond the virtual, accelerated life of the globalized world.
In a certain sense, Hanzlová has dared to take on a controversial, apparently already exhausted theme. The motif of the horse occupies a special place in the history of photography. The earliest surviving photogravure of Nicephore Niepce from 1825 is of a man leading a horse. 50 years later, Eadweard Muybridge made the first attempt at a moving image – film – with a photographic sequence of a galloping horse, Animal Locomotion, 1878. Since then, the horse has been photographed millions of times and has declined to a kitsch picture-calendar motif.
Jesus Carrillo describes this in the catalogue to the retrospective exhibition at the Fundacion Mapfre in Madrid, 2012: “Images of horses in the media and in the collective imagination, where they have evolved since childhood, are much more deep-rooted than our experience of the actual animal… Hanzlová’s photographs set out to return to a state in which the depiction of the horse is united with an intense experience of it and to a time when the experience of the horse was in turn linked to many other, equally lost experiences.”
An excellent book about HORSE, with a foreword by John Berger, has been published by Koenig Books London. This book is also available in the gallery.