Miroslav Tichý: Tichy
Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver BC
Nov 17, 2006-Jan 14, 2007
Miroslav Tichý, untitled photograph [Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver BC, Nov 17-Jan 14]
Presentation House Gallery is showing the photography of Czech artist Miroslav Tichý in its first public gallery exhibition outside Europe. Tichý was born in a small village in Moravia in 1926 and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague from 1945-1948. He drew and painted until, in the early 1970s, he was evicted from his studio. He spent some eight years in prison camps and jails for being different and therefore possibly subversive.
During the Communist regime, Tichý began surreptitiously taking photographs instead. Many were of women he glimpsed as he roamed the street in rags. He improvised cameras by assembling empty tin cans, toilet rolls, plastic drain pipes and cigarette boxes. He cut his lenses from Plexiglas, ground them with sandpaper and polished them with toothpaste and ashes. He shot hundreds of images every day and printed soft, cloudy, smudged impressions using improvised darkroom equipment. Taken at odd angles, often against the light or in the dark, the figures have an intense, dream-like quality. They have been described as exquisitely produced small objects of obsession.
After spending decades as a recluse and social outcast, Tichý had his work selected by curator Harold Szeemann for the Seville Bienial in 2004. In 2005, he won the Discovery Award at Photography Arles and the Kunsthaus Zurich, in Switzerland organized a major retrospective. In 2005 and 2006, he also had solo exhibitions in several commercial art galleries and at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Recent group exhibitions include Artists for Tichy Tichy for Artists. Tichý is the subject of several publications, articles and a documentary film produced in 2004-05. His photographs are in public collections such as the Centre Pompidou and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.