The images created by the photographer Dušan Šimánek seem to stand somewhere in between of what is viewed in this country as art photography and the so-called art employing the photographic medium. Šimánek also engages in publicity and fashion photography. His noteworthy free-art photographs are represented in prestigious collections abroad, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the JCA in Tokyo. In the 1980s, Šimánek exhibited his works with a group of similarly inclined artists associated around photography theorist Anna Fárová. In the 1990s and later, he publicly exhibited a few times with the legendary art group Ticho (Quiet) large-format photographs featuring virtually abstract walls of derelict buildings in Prague’s Žižkov district. Most recently, he has been creating individual series of non-figurative themes, ranging between photography and abstract painting. His Okna (Windows), for example, are large-format photographs printed on a special type of graph paper. As in his previous series of photographs, this collection, too, attests to the artist’s continuing interest in abstract images uprooted from the real life around. Okna presents glass reflections – windows, shop windows, facades of buildings – imbued with an arsenal of symbolism that goes hand in hand with them, though more in the spirit of painting. Other series of images by Šimánek include the remarkable Multiply (Multiples), made as close-ups of ordinary plastic tablecloths, printed on matte paper, so that it is not clear whether these are photos or prints. At first sight, the viewer will appreciate the painterly nature of the photographs. Rather than capturing interesting places or details, they seem to be transposed into a medium that is somewhat disconcerting to the viewer: he is not sure what exactly he is seeing – whether this is a speculation, a coincidence, a ‘living’ picture, or computer manipulation. This is really non-manipulated photography, technically virtuosic work, the finding of visual details and waiting for light and time, which is consequently processed with the use of classical methods. If we are to name the essence of Dušan Šimáček’s images, we cannot omit his continuously modernist conviction regarding the strength of vision and the possibility of positive spiritual communication. As an observer, he uses no post-modern or post-production tricks; he believes in the potentiality of subjective perception and in the option of removing from reality parts of the image, which can subsequently be “simply“ transferred via photography onto a planar surface. Even though as of late his work has also been conceptual, his personal experience with everyday life and images of reality still play the most important role for him. He does not document reality, but creates a self-sustained world that more or less resembles reality. Šimánek selects only subjects that are in harmony with his own integrity.
* 1948, Pribram, Czech Republic
1948 born in Příbram
1963–67 Secondary School of Decorative Arts in Prague, Department of Scenography
1973–78 FAMU Film Academy, Prague, Department of Photography
From the mid-1970s, he has been collaborating with various magazines, he engages in free-art and advertising photography
Author of the official presidential black-and-white photograph of Václav Havel of 1990.
He lives and works in Prague.
1979 | Cinoherni Club, Dusan Simanek
1980 | Cinoherni Club, Dusan Simanek
1982 | Banska Bystrica, Dusan Simanek
1983 | Castle Opočno, Dusan Simanek
1988 | Monastery Opava, Dusan Simanek
1988 | Fotochema Prague, Dusan Simanek
1993 | House of Arts Brno, Dusan Simanek