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May 15 - July 30 2013

RTR Gallery

RTR Gallery is pleased to present the personal exhibition of Czech photograph Pavel BANKA, entitled « INFINITY/BEYOND INIFINTY » : 20 images in black and white from the same series, that have been taken on the North West Pacific coast of the United States between 1997 and 1999. 3 new images, that have never been shown before, are also part of the exhibition, and have been composed on the same basis as the other ones with the help of digital manipulations.

Pavel Baňka was born in 1941 in Prague, and has had several creative "lives", which have intermingled for decades. First as a photographer, but also as a teacher and a mentor, he encouraged generations of artists. He also curated a number of exhibitions and is the author of many essays. Pavel Baňka is a very active free electron, who explored various photographic records. He is the embodiment of this Czech creative spirit, pursuing for independence and specificity, adapting itself without complying, inspiring and innovating.

Throughout his career, Banka’s photographic series have alternated between imagined and found realities. Among his photographs that purport to be primarily documents are portraits and interior views as well as images from suburban environments.

“In the past, although i recognized its beauty, I always considered landscape photography a bit boring in terms of my own goals because of its literal description of nature. Being challenged by the opportunity to photograph the Oregon coast during my six-months-long residency in 1997 and 1998, and then again during four months in 1999, I decided that rather than recording the reality of nature I would try to record my own "perception" of it. I watched the ocean, forests, meadow grasses, and sky. What fascinated me was that all were in constant motion, changing from moment to moment - responding to the wind, the weather, and the light. I experimented with different ways of incorporating movement and change into my images - using the long exposure and letting the water, leaves and grass move; "painting" the actual picture into the film emulsion; or using my camera as a painter uses his brush for "touching" the image many times with repeated exposures. For some photographs, however, I chose a more conventional way. In all their mutations, the photographs in " INFINITY/BEYOND INIFINTY" constantly pose a question: Is the landscape what we see and consider being reality, or is it what we feel while looking around?“

The " INFINITY/BEYOND INIFINTY" series made at a precise period and at a very specific location, gives to the viewer the feeling of being out of space and time.
"I'm not looking for a crucial moment, I multiply times. I try to achieve an average - a totality of perceptions, not objective, but subjective "
Pavel Baňka attempts to bring to the surface dream and reality, the real and the imaginary, the physical and the virtual.

Actually, with the exception of cityscapes, Baňka did not discover landscape as a subject until he left the Czech Republic and spent two separate residencies in Oregon. For someone raised in a land-locked country, the wild coastal plains, the crashing surf and the endlessly distant horizon of the Pacific ocean initiated the four series featured in the exhibition Infinity : Forests, Hills and Meadows, Skies and Seascapes.

Even if the viewer is still able to identify what was photographed, the specificity of the place gets lost.

« When he photographs the seas, there are mostly no shorelines or even perceivable horizons. His primary interest is in reducing nature’s palette to luxurious black and white tones stretched over the infinite space of sea and sky. And, like the « Equivalents » series made in the 1930’s by the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Banka seeks to imbue this palette with his own feelings». (Anne Tucker)

In the “Skies” series a parallel can be drawn with the panoramic views of Prague from Josef Sudek. They seem to have inspired Baňka by their shapes even if the result is quite different. Baňka’s landscapes are a medley of the existing and the fictional.

In the “ INFINITY/BEYOND INIFINTY” series, Banka has managed to create a unique relation with reality, where the elements are mixed together leading to abstraction, inviting the viewer to navigate it and immerse into it.


Pavel Banka, FOREST XVII, from series “Infinity/Beyond Infinity”, 1997-1999 78x98cm, silver print
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Pavel Banka, FOREST II, from series “Infinity/Beyond Infinity”, 1997-1999 78x98cm, silver print
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Pavel Banka, HILLS AND MEADOWS I, from series “Infinity/Beyond Infinity”, 1997-1999 78x98cm, silver print
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Pavel Banka, SEASCAPE XXIII, from series “Infinity/Beyond Infinity”, 1997-1999 78x98cm, silver print
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Pavel Banka, Seascape # XXVI, 1999
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Pavel Banka, # SKY XXI, 2000
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Pavel Banka, Hills and Meadows # VI, 1999
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Pavel Banka, Hills and Meadows # VIII, 1999
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Pavel Banka, Seascape # XX, 1999
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