In 1982 Jitka Hanzlová defected from the communist regime in Czechoslovakia and settled in Essen in West Germany. Since then she has explored her condition of exile through photography, producing a body of work at once poetic and truthful.
Hanzlová’s photography is in constant pursuit of the relationship between the individual and the context in which she lives. At once profoundly personal, Hanzlová’s photographs also speak to a more universal longing for a sense of place.
Hanzlová develops her work in series, beginning with Rokytník which was made between 1990 and 1994, named after the village in Eastern Bohemia which she left a decade earlier. Of central significance to Hanzlová, Rokytník is the creative bedrock for everything that follows. Taken together, her photography constitutes an imaginative investigation of ‘belonging’, whether a commentary on the alienation of city life or the photographer’s deep identification with the mysterious northern forests. This is essentially a form of extended portraiture and Hanzlová has most recently turned to portrait photography itself, in particular exploring the potential of Renaissance archetypes.
Covering imagery from the last twenty years, this is the only UK showing of one of Europe’s major contemporary photographers.