Fotograf Magazine

Michal Ureš: Samaritaine blanc

12. 9. — 5. 10. 2012

Michal Ureš and I happen to go back a long way (we even own the same model of shooting-brake coupe), and yet I am still at a loss of what to make of his photographs. Although I admire their acute visual sensibility, I am often left guessing as to where exactly they might be pointing. And at the same time I grow uncertain as to whether, as a result of inevitably becoming ever more hardened with time, I might perhaps be losing a deeper understanding of the genre in which he chooses to express himself.

Ureš studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design under the tutelage of two mentors, Pavel Štecha and Ivan Pinkava, which (as with many of his fellow students) forced him to define his stance in opposition to both of these singular figures – that is, to both traditional documentary and also staged photography. This gave rise to a peculiar genre I would perhaps term “roving” photography, based on a brittle understanding of communicating the uncommunicable through fleeting, fragmentary observations of surrounding reality, an approach well-versed in both photography and contemporary aesthetics and with a keen sense of the bizarre and emotionally compelling – and where these might intersect. It was as though he simply had to reconfigure external reality into volatile images, which would then become more clear and make more sense as part of a larger series, whether in the form of an exhibition or book. One thus faces the dilemma of whether it is possible (or indeed if one wishes) to articulate this more universal message with acuity and clarity, or whether to simply hide behind a verbose visual cliché.

For this very reason, Ureš‘ exhibition Samaritaine blanc held at Fotograf Gallery (September 12— October 5, 2012) came as a most delightful surprise. His photographs, this time presented at a much less hectic tempo, are more poised, no longer merging into one another; the pure and elegant exhibition space offered a serenity and focus to his visual compound sentences which they had long sought for – and this time, their open-endedness paradoxically worked to their advantage.

Pavel Vančát