Katarina Brunclíková is among the most striking and talented graduates of the Institute of Creative Photography at the Silesian Institute in Opava, evidenced not only by the Red Diploma that she acquired upon completing her magistrate studies with a convincing cycle of modern imaginative images, Prague, and her excellent theoretical work about female photographers who devote their work to women's issues, but more particularly by the actual quality of her work, some of which is presented at her exhibition.
It is apparent from Katarina Brunclíková's first more mature works that the author is particularly interested in artistic photography. She is often attracted by minimalist motifs, sometimes reduced to just light and shadows. She is also attracted by the possibilities of stylizing reality in front of the objective and thus all the more inventively works with the psychological aspects of the impact of color. At the same time, however, it is obvious that she is not just striving for beautiful images, but is also trying to use the actual emotions of the effective compositions, visual metaphors and symbols and shape analogies and contrasts, in order to reflexively express her own experiences, sensations and moods. For example, the cycle Eyes for Buňuel, showing fragments of color-styled reflections of women's faces in mirrors, is a visual representation of her reaction to her grandfather's death. As the author herself says, "they reflect fear, loneliness, but also a longing for reconciliation." Similarly, the Music series graphically expresses her perception of music through expressive abstraction and striking - not only as a liste-ner, but also as an active musician. In addition, several cycles of nude figures, where in recent years experiments with projections, body confrontations and various structures or color shifts prevail over classical concepts, are more about the author's feelings and sensations than they are about the beauty of the human body.
Katarina Brunclíková's most mature work so far is undoubtedly her compact cycle of subjective documents from the metropolitan environment of Prague. These images are highly stylized, first through their general blurriness, and through the use of "cross" technology, which radically changes the real colors registered by the objective. This cycle took a long time to create, during a difficult phase in the young photographer's life. The result is a contextually profound and formally refined work, which shows impressively not only the dominating motifs of a lonely person in the middle of a modern city, but also reflects the author's inner world through various image metaphors. People are somewhat lost in these photographs with dominant green and brown tones; sometimes only their silhouettes are depicted, sometimes we see only blurred fragments of their figures. The leading role is played by the cold, impersonal setting of marble, glass and steel, in which we see lonely pedestrians and in which, like in Plato's cave, we only suspect the reflections of a different, more real and more beautiful world.
Katarina Brunclíková's photographs are supreme visual representations and any attempt to precisely transfer their multiple meanings into concrete words is doomed to failure. Viewers capable of tuning to the author's wavelength and discovering more and more possibilities of interpretation can find the works deeply appealing. For others, they will remain a formal wordplay.
Prof. PhDr. Vladimír Birgus
Katarina Brunclíková is able to use the light relationships in a very personal and unique way. Her photographs create a magical and mysterious feeling. She feels that is very important to wait for the right moment that fits her imaginations perfectly. She tries to catch the unrepeatable atmosphere of precisely picked situations, when all layers are integrating in a way that the final picture matches her intentions. The shots are never merely abstract, they always contain some realistic base which might seem a little bit indistinct at first. This way she makes the viewer perceive the chosen motifs through different optics, in unexpected connections. She likes to use the abilities of lumens, reflections or shadows. This makes the original reality out of focus but on the other hand it naturally creates surprising connections of different meanings.
The photographer has an extraordinary sense for balanced composition, for combining obvious pieces of reality with subtler ones. This creates an unusual tension caused by unanswered questions which might inspire imagination. It is unnecessary though to try to decipher substantial motives or not. It is more important to express the connections. For Katarina Brunclíková typically waits for moments that might never come back again. She likes to put her photographs into cycles in which the theme gets broader until it is exhausted. Afterwards there are new horizons opening up for her. The world of her stories isn't always clear, it is full of concealment and secrets. The author gives us only a hint and makes us evolve our imaginations so that we have to conjure up the things that are happening in her photographs.
In her creative works she is covering a few streams of graphic arts. Sometimes she continues on minimalistic tendencies. This she expresses through intensely lit shapes that are coming out from an unidentified dark dimension. Here creative work develops into strict simple geometric components, but at the same time she leaves room for randomness. Other times she is playing with variable structures, kind of like if she was inspired by Art Informel with its emphasis of unmanageable streams of energy. When one looks at her bright photographs, one can imagine how the Earth was created, how the planets were born, how the lava is oozing out of the volcano, how the lightning flashes over the land for a second or how the fierce northern lights reflect on the never ending fields of snow.
The remarkable portraits are those of human faces interfering with structures. The face is falling apart and divides or connects with the natural motifs without creating a sentimental feeling. The ambiguity lets us come to one's imagination again. The swept back sceneries are suggestive, there is no time for noticing details, but the main focus is on the overall effect. The artist inspired by urban motifs connects with the sparing urbanism of the Group 42. She has a similar ability to express the atmosphere of her chosen surroundings just like the members - painters and poets (Gross, Hudeček, Kainar, Kolář).
Last I would like to add that Katarina Brunclíková shows a strong painter's sentiment. At the same time she always watches for a specific theme and concept in which she freely steps over the borders of strictly determined graphic fields.
One of the signs of noticeably creative work is when works of art are inspired spontaneously. For example in photography random pictures can start to create distinct cycles. Photo series by Katarina Brunclíková take years to create, the biggest and still unfinished one, with a temporary name "Praha", has been in the works since 2001. Don't let the title fool you, it has nothing to do with Prague's milieu. There is no common association connected to Prague. The meaning of the title is different; it is very personal to the artist. Her arrival to Prague years ago meant meeting an unkind world that scared her with its foreign atmosphere and, what is more important, with its apathy to people's fate. She named not the geographical but metaphorical dimension which intent is only to steal a person's identity, deprive one of the inner richness of one's soul and to lock one up into loneliness.
The cycle isn't only a message about unfriendliness. It has been created in order to present the artist's admiration of the fact, that underneath the annoying crust, which might seem thick at first sight, there is only a small step separating us from the world where emotional intimacy is still in control and where a human doesn't have to obey external restrictions. She shows this symbolically, for example, in pictures that were inspired by shop windows: the world in front of the window separated from the world behind by a thin layer of glass. They both reflect each other and, more importantly, they emphasize the thin layer between them and the spontaneous pictures which create stories that are being presented right on the edge. A new world is presented with implications that rules exist that are different from the earthly rules and in which there might even be unknown and improbable living species.
The discovery of those facts hasn't surprised the author as much as it might surprise the onlooker who is unfamiliar with her work. She was ready for the fact; she just went and picked the things up with her camera. At this point we need to understand a little bit of her background. When she was 17 years old she went through a difficult trial. Stricken with a serious disease she was restricted to bed rest. She became very sensitive to the sun and had to spend many weeks in a room with limited sunlight. This room became her substitute universe. The closest objects took on the role of imaginative surrounding and the things which appeared as normal became fantasy, the mind's eye replaced the reality of what was seen.
It was in the middle of summer, the sun was shining outside but it was only able to creep through the window blinds into her room in sparkling reflections. The light shining through the blinds left a pearl shine in the quivering hot air. As the sun moved the spot would change its color, beginning with golden brown and ending with cold dark blue. The rest of the reflected beams danced on the walls and on the electronic piano which was the only piece of "furniture" that was left in her visual field. She envisioned that even the piano changed according to the light, making it seem like the keys were moving by themselves and playing.
That is when something happened to her, she began to see things differently and started to interpret colors and light differently than she used to. She liked this change and has kept it ever since. She was basically coming back to her old self. As a little girl in kindergarten she was supposed to paint an autumn field and woods. She chose the "wrong" color: purple. The leaves were supposed to be yellow and the field brown, the teacher corrected her. She could understand her teacher's reaction but she knew why the colors are different for her: she experienced them that way, she was introduced to her own experience of loneliness. The color became her unique view of the world. If it was up to her, everyone would have their own colors, different from everyone else's.
When she started with photography, she remembered her illness and that the reality spoke to her in more complicated and complex words than true real life. She decided to catch this ambiguity in her pictures. What is interesting is that she approaches objects as complete. Before she starts she knows only a rough emotion that the specific situation evokes in her. In that moment she is not seeking and experimenting but merely expressing her first desire. She comes with an imagination of a finished photograph and is waiting for the good light conditions that will let her say: "Now."
The only way she changes her original idea is through the technical finishing touches. She has always enjoyed and been interested in finding new procedures by herself. Mixing triple developing bath based in varied temperatures: ice cold, hot and normal - and watching how it affects the photographs. She discovered a technique of "cross" by herself when the colored diapositives are developed with a technique for developing negatives. The finished picture has an extremely high granulation and rich colors with an extremely high contrast. Because normal colors weren't enough for expressing emotionally charged realities she added the technique to work for her. Only after she mastered this technique it was when she learned that photographers have been experimenting with it both here and abroad.
It is interesting that despite her high demands for the technical side of the color process Katarina Brunclíková enjoys working on a whim. She doesn't favor the professional studio with strong flash lights; her studio has always been a little table at home in the kitchen or in her room, using a lamp, flashlight and light coming through a glass prism or cleverly constructed mirror reflections. As a creator she feels the most comfortable in the intimacy of her room where she lives. She adds that she isn't even able to work in front of other people, even the ones that are the closest to her. When she is supposed to be working in front of people, like during the "Praha" cycle, working on the dusty street, she separates herself from the outer world with the help of a walkman. Then the outer world stops bothering her and an entrance to the inner one opens.
The fact that both of these worlds, the outside and the inner one, are far apart, is indicated in the number of grids the artist is working with. She is telling us that the real world is endangered but at the same time the path there isn't always easy. The shutter closes a lot of times between the camera and the object emphasizing the feeling of tightness of the temporary world. But even the thickest gridded picture has been created for us to discover that even behind the grid there is always something left. Not even one of the most melancholy photographs remains hopeless, no - there is no doubting the spiritual substance of the world. Despite the saying that the road to it is difficult, Katarina Brunclíková is right on that path.