Fotograf Magazine

Miroslav Jodas: photographs 1961-2008

Text by Antonín Dufek, Arbor Vitae, Prague 2008, 222 pages.

Miroslav Jodas (*1932) belongs to today’s forgotten generation of Czech photographers that  entered  the  profession  during  the  1960s  with a programme loosely extending beyond the aesthetic of the “everyday“ documentary. His entire life he devoted himself to the profession of goldsmith, and alongside that in the later half of the 1950s he began to systematically take pictures. During the course of the 1960s he gradually professionalised (his work) and started to do photographic illustration for books and reproductions of works of art. His first, more expressive publications were illustrations in Josef Kadlec’s book, Den, kte nebyl / The Day That Wasnt (published by Čs. spisovatel, 1965).

Jodas‘ specialty was photo shots of his beloved jazz concerts and musicians. (Interesting pieces from among  Jodas‘ works include the decoration at Reduta Jazz Club – this is one of few preserved interiors with photographic wallpaper boasting respectable dimensions of 3×16 m.). In 1967 Anna Fárová ranked him in the pleiad of elite photographers in the exhibit 7+7 at the Špálova Gallery. In 1970 she thereafter introduced him in an independent exhibit in Ostrov na Ohří.

Friendships with Libor Fára and many other artists brought Jodas into a broader artistic context. Thanks to this his works developed to unseen scope. Since the end of the 1960s a strong minimalist influence began to show strongly in them. In recent years Miroslav Jodas has focused on destroying fragments of civilisation – he photographs destroyed boxes of cigarettes and beverage cans, as if from World War III.

The prestigious publishing house, Arbor Vitae, published Jodas‘ extensive monograph, which first contained his entire life’s work. Stanislav Kolíbal also contributed to the publication. Jodas had reproduced many of the latter’s works. Kolíbal is also, together with Jodas‘ son, Marek, author of pleasantly temperate graphic designs. The introductory text by Antonín Dufek is a relatively short, yet informed study, in brief he comments all phases of the artist’s works.

“The technique of cinefilm and its somewhat soft, gray blow-ups without large contrasts are characteristic for him,“ writes Anna Fárová in the above-mentioned text. Of course the tone, in which the publication is printed, appears to be at times excessively gray/bland and it’s a question as to whether or not this isn’t an error in the text. Also the range of genres and styles used by Jodas is respectable, but it would not hurt for him to have a more focused selection. I cannot escape the feeling that the book would benefit from being cut to a quarter of its current length. The danger for each retrospective publication is an attempt to stuff inside it a maximum of one’s life’s works. Jodas‘ motivational view, which is uncommonly broad and diverse, splinters in certain chapters into mere fragments.

Jodas‘ retrospective monograph is, despite small problems, an important publication, which exposes to its full extent an unquestionably important artist.

Pavel Vančát