Fotograf Magazine

35 Branches (From Vít Soukup’s Photo Archive)

16 August – 13 September 2013

 The Fotograf Gallery prepared an exhibition called, 35 větví (35 Branches) with the sub-title, From Vít Soukup’s Photo Archive for this season. This prematurely deceased artist (1971–2007) gained attention many times in previous years – his most extensive exhibition so far, Všechno co bylo (All There Was), took place this past spring at the Divus Gallery. This comprehensive retrospective of Vít Soukup’s works is still waiting for its moment. One could rank this artist in the category of painter; however, the list of media that he worked with is not, in this case, defining for the comprehension of his art. Rather it is important to note how and what he worked with, in what ways he was able to combine or mythologize what we see.

The exhibition at the Fotograf Gallery was “the first attempt at presenting a specific fraction of the material” from the archive that was found by publisher Ivan Mečl at the artist’s summer residence. Indeed it’s a fraction of work through which one can follow the traces of merging banality with nobility; two important yet paradoxically combinable opposing forces for the artist. Curator, Jiří Ptáček, chose 35 photo-clippings for the Prague gallery. They come from newspapers dating back to the early 1990s. These clippings became (or were meant to become) templates for Vít Soukup’s paintings. According to Jiří Ptáček this exhibition shows the artist’s “extraordinary ability to cut through the mess of mass media.” It also became “an excursion into the photojournalism of the first half of the 1990s.” The presentation of this testimony to the everyday reality of that era was singularly expressed – indeed 35 branches do lean against the gallery’s white walls; photographs from newspapers are held up on them by thumb-tacks with coloured heads. The banality, the transience of the past, was exhibited in a somewhat grotesque way for a gallery environment. However, despite this, it has a sensitive, emphatic nobility and message that this archived inheritance brings forward to the present day. 

Tereza Špinková