The Slovak photographer is inspired by work Dostoyevsky, Andrei Tarkovsky and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
VIENNA. The Kunstraum Nestroyhof (Nestroyplatz 1) presents to 3 May 2018 the exhibition On the Road (Sulla Strada; Unterwegs) with photographs by Igor Kovac. With his work, the Slovak photographer deliberately aligns himself with the black-and-white photography tradition of the 1930s to 1950s, following as it were in the footsteps of Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), his role model.
As in the work of Cartier-Bresson, at first glance it is quick and easy to decode his pictures: they revolve around the element of surprise – and yet they also hint at rigorous staging, says Inge Scholz-Strasser, curator and art manager. With his pictures’ compositions, Igor Kovac often leaves us in the dark about what he wants to tell us – beyond the initial impression – with his choice of snippets and situations, portraits and snapshots, with his situational photography. Coming from the world of film, he knows how to make use of angles and snippets of his chosen subjects as well as how to toy with them, to employ them theatrically; the „unseen” frequently overwhelms his compositions and generates that element of suspense in which the immediately imminent or the impending threath becomes dominant.
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„I believe that people, human beings, must be the pictures’ subject, their stories told with a hunger for truth wherever possible so that their hidden beauty can be revealed and delight our eyes.” Igor Kovac
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Viewers are often surprised by the ruthlessness with which Igor Kovac’s photographs capture life on the road, on the go, on the move. His snapshots tell stories that need no further explanation; his portraits often suggest complex biographies behind the images. Situational photography defines the majority of his works: mostly taken unbeknownst to the protagonists they depict, they always betray the eye of a documentarian who never shies away from portraying the diverse aspects of poverty, sorrow, frailty, humor, and joy.
Exhibition design: Igor Kovac and Inge Scholz-Strasser
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Igor Kovac was born in Bratislava in 1964. He is a self-taught photographer and has been capturing images on film since he was fifteen years old. The writings of Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) and films of Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) left a lasting impression on him in his youth and went on to serve as a source of inspiration for his artistic work. He comes across the subjects for his photographs during lengthy travels in the south of Europe, Italy in particular. He studied journalism and film at Comenius University and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. After various commissions for Slovakian and Czech television between 1995 and 2000, he has since worked in the fields of freelance photography and advertising.
As the artist himself has acknowledged, Austrian television – above all Frank Hoffmann’s program Trailer on ORF 2 on Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. – had a formative influence on him when he was young. His understanding of culture was further informed by Austrian radio, especially the station OE1, which he listened to regularly.
Both stations were available in Bratislava and he says that it was they who introduced him to the wide world of knowledge and culture – in film, literature, and music. With this background, he went on to design numerous feature films and television plays for Slovakian television in the 1990s.
During this period he also produced portrait series of prominent figures in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for Czech television. This work comprises TV documentaries on topical social issues, with one focus being films for young adults.
Igor Kovac lives in Bratislava, Slovakia.
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‘On the Road’
(Sulla Strada; Unterwegs)
April 5 – May 3, 2018
Kunstraum Nestroyhof, Nestroyplatz 1, 1020 Wien
Monday to Friday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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The exhibited photographs are unique copies. Pigment print on Hahnemühle-paper, 106 x 156 cm, framed with museum glass, signed by the photographer.