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The countryside and the city, especially a city that we know so intimately - Prague. A circus where he got to see life behind the scenes - or behind the tents, one might say - in person. Even the most personal of places - the cottage where he spends free time with his family. These are three key subjects of the exhibition and three decisive points in the creative work and in the life of the photographer Jan Reich.

The titles of the photographical cycles and of the photographs themselves are really a personal résumé of their creator. From them, we find out all about who he has, about his family life, and his interests. Rather than a dull, plain biography, this is a sort of photographic, colorful mapping, although the presentation is only black and white. Besides learning about the life of the photographer, we also find out something about the people close to him or about those who lives crossed his path for a time or were just near him. Even if some of the pictures are stylized, one can still always find in them the fundamental reason why Jan Reich has dedicated himself to photography - he wants to capture the people, the things and the moods close to him, speaking even to the disinterested observer.

Photography from the cycle Vanishing Prague will surely at first evoke nostalgia in every resident of the capital city who has been baptized in the Moldau and who belongs to the right generation. The nostalgia then suddenly becomes a return to those year that are thought of as carefree, the time of childhood and youth. A return that is as real as if a person were just looking at a ship anchored in the harbor in Hole¹ovice, with the cold, damp air blowing in from the river, or were taking advantage of the twilight to sneak a last few puffs on a cigarette for the day by a fence around the corner from home. Just the scale of gray tones gives us the feeling that we aren't really experiencing past realities, but that we are just looking back on the past. Then as we proceed through the exhibition, Vanished Prague seems to blend in with the Prague of today, so both seem at once real and relevant across the divide of the years.

The photographs of the Czech countryside are like a tour of the subconscious of each of us. As the author puts it, "... every person and every landscape has something of Prague Castle in it."

© 2005 Jan Reich, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.
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