Fotograf Magazine

Remembrance of Bohumír Prokůpek

A deadened landscape, as if contemplating itself, yet from which energy and pureness emanate and lead to concentration: the details of nature – grass, stones, leaves. The photography of Bohumír Prokůpek. Works which speak not only of the sites they portray, but also very intensively about the artist – a man, who loved nature, who felt to be a part of it, and who thus understood it very well. In the countryside Bohumír Prokůpek found both himself and also answers to many of life’s questions. It was from the land – from the rich-smelling soil – that he drew the strength and understanding that he gladly shared with those around him.

Bohumír Prokůpek died on 19 November 2008. This was sad news for those of us, who were close to him. Very sad news, because losing Bohumír meant losing a number of valuable moments and experiences. He disappeared from our lives, in which he had played a very important role. He left after a very admirable battle with an unfavourable fate – one he accepted without protest and with his feet firmly on the ground, which was such an important connection to the meaning of his work, just as the sky above him.

For instructors and many students at the Photography Department he was a sharp observer and commentator. He thought long and hard about his every move, he was an invested guide to the world of art, he listened carefully, he provided counsel on matters personal and professional, and he was an obliging friend open to all that was interesting and honest. I was glad that he took up my offer in autumn 2002, after careful consideration, and began to teach at the FAMU Photography Department. He became head of the landscape photography studio, and he was popular among students for this deeply human approach and for his accommodation in solving problems. His numerous fieldtrips with students to study landscapes were not just discovery of these venues nor the uncovering of the art of how to photograph them, but were also, and unwittingly, a means of self-discovery. His work at the Photography Department was fundamental both for him and for the world around him.

Bohumír Prokůpek was an empathetic photographer, a landscape photographer, who continued in the tradition of traditional Czech photography: and this with his great fondness for large-format panel machines. The long process of making his own photographs suited him, a ceremony of sorts, which enabled him to better perceive matters and think them through. An he even liked those wooden apparatuses -seen as beautifully crafted things. In recent times he exhibited his works primarily as part of the Český dřevák (Czech Wooden Shoe) group In 2004 he held an independent exhibit at the Moravia Gallery in Brno, where he showed his monograph of works in 2007. He received the Environment Ministry’s award for his photographic contribution to the protection of nature and the environment in 2003. His emotionally impacting and purely creative and architectural work for the exhibit at the Museum for the Lidice Monument received the Grand Prize for Czech Interiors and a Special Award – Gloria musaealis. In Lidice he planned to build a chapel as part of a pious or reverent area calling for reflection. This extremely delicate project, which he very much supported, had not however been realised yet.

Bohumír Prokůpek was an important part of the lives of those of us, who were close to him. He was an important figure at the Photography Department. He has passed away and there is a marked void in his absence.

Jaroslav Bárta