Verve Gallery of Photography is pleased to present a three-person exhibition of
documentary photography with Verve gallery artists Stanko Abadžic, Julio Bittencourt
and Michael Crouser. The public reception is held on Friday, January 22, 2010 from 5-
7pm. The exhibition is on view through Friday, March 13, 2010. There will be a Gallery
Talk with Michael Crouser at Verve Gallery on Saturday, January 23, 2010 from 2-3pm.
Stanko Abadžic will be exhibiting black and white gelatin silver prints from his imagery
that has a street photographer’s aesthetic, including a wide range of genre and
themes in the artist’s signature style.
Abadžic’s use of shadow, line and form coupled with his juxtapositions create irony,
humor and satire. The images are familiar, yet distinct, capturing an Eastern European
timeless sensibility, as though they could have been made today or in the early 20th
century. They remind the viewer of the old world, where people were friendly, modest,
and had humor about their misgivings; playfulness was abundant yet people worked
hard and the world was uncertain.
Abadžic’s work is characterized by strong contrasts of light and dark and an interest in
patterns and geometric forms created by long shadows, brick or cobblestone streets,
intricate ironwork designs, fences, and other grid-like elements-shot mostly in Prague
and other Eastern European cities. He seeks out children playing, people on bicycles or
lingering at street cafes, and has an eye for irony. There is a strong sense of nostalgia
and transience running through his work, due no doubt to his experiences as a
Stanko Abadžic was born in 1952 in Vukovar, Croatia. At the age of 15 he began to
teach himself photography. After marrying, he worked as a reporter and photojournalist
to support his family. When the Croatian War of Independence broke out in 1991,
Abadžic left everything and fled with his family to Germany for what he hoped would
be a brief stay. After four difficult years, during which he took few photographs, they
were denied German citizenship and forced to leave. After moving to Prague, Abadžic
experienced a rebirth and began exploring the city with a medium-format camera. At
this point in 1995, he began to develop his visual eye in earnest.
Abadžic was able to return with his family to Croatia in 2002, settling in the capital of
Zagreb. He continues to visit Prague to take photographs and also shoots on the Adriatic
Sea. Abadžic has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Museum
of Modern Art Rijeka, Mimara Museum in Zagreb, and various galleries in Japan,
Argentina Prague, Berlin, and other Eastern European cities. He is represented in the
United States by John Cleary (Houston, TX), Verve Gallery (Santa Fe, NM) and
Contemporary Works (Pennsylvania).
Julio Bittencourt will be exhibiting his award winning color photographs from the book
and print series, In A Window of Prestes Maia 911 Building.
This series centers around what is thought to have been the biggest squat in the world:
911 Prestes Maia, a 22-story tower block in central São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. In
2006 the abandoned building was home to an estimated 1630 people including 468
families with 315 children - a mini city within a very big one. In 2002 the ‘Movement for
the Homeless’ had moved hundreds of homeless families into the empty building, who
in turn made the place habitable, even going so far as providing a library, cinema and
workshops. Then suddenly, in March of 2006, the inhabitants learned they were going to
be evicted within a month. Julio Bittencourt photographed the diverse occupants at
their windows, from which they communicated with one other, recording the happiness
and dignity in coexistence with decay and neglect.
Bittencourt’s photographs are a powerful record of this diverse community. He grew up
in São Paulo where he became accustomed to people communicating across
windows as family and friends lived on top of and next to each other. As such, windows
were always a significant part of BIttencourt’s life and this is what drew him to create
"To be able to photograph a window I also had to be positioned in one [across
from the subjects in other’s homes]. I think that by choosing windows, and only
them, I created a ‘rigorous game’ that I proposed to myself – to look at windows,
from windows… My intention was to show a symbolic and a physical ‘barrier’,
the decay of the materials, the dignity of the people who survive behind them
and the decay of a system that doesn’t integrate its inhabitants into society but
moves away from them making these ‘barriers’ each time bigger."
The building was finally evicted in 2007 and many residents were relocated to public
housing developments in the east side of the city, Some returned home - usually
northeast of Brazil and other South American countries, while others have joined other,
much smaller squats, mainly downtown. The artist has been following this theme for
more than a year, in his new series called Citizen X.
Julio Bittencourt was born in Brazil, grew up in São Paulo and spent his adolescence in
New York. In 2000 he began his career at the photo department of Valor Economico,
the major financial publication in Brazil where he worked as a staff photographer and
as assistant-editor for four years. Since 2006 Julio has been working as a freelance
photographer for magazines, newspapers, advertising and corporate clients in Brazil,
Europe, Canada, Japan and the United States, in addition to his personal projects.
Julio's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and published in
magazines such as Geo, National Geographic, Stern, Le Monde, The Guardian, Esquire,
Leica World Magazine, among others. In 2008 he published his first book, In a window of
Prestes Maia 911 Building, which was awarded the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. Julio
currently lives in São Paulo.
Michael Crouser will be exhibiting black and white gelatin silver prints from his soon-tobe
published book, The West.
This Kodak sponsored project features imagery of the disappearing world of cattle
ranchers in Colorado, all shot on Kodak Tri-X film. The imagery is made in Crouser’s style
of warm-toned prints with soft blacks that allow for a sense of serenity even in the
sometimes stark subject matter.
Like the artist’s previous work on the world of the bullfights in Spain, Mexico and South
America, these Western pictures examine and document a rough, dangerous, age-old
and disappearing world. The artist is drawn to the timeless elements in this work–
horseback riding; branding with hot branding irons; cowboys wearing chaps and
cowboy hats and chewing tobacco. The artist was intrigued with the soft-spoken, kind
cowboys and cowgirls that he’s met along this exploration. The Colorado landscape
was a new subject for the Crouser, usually photographing in the warmer climates for his
“The West is a series that had its beginnings as long ago as 1997, with some test
shots I did on a ranch in Telluride, Colorado. Almost ten years later, as I found
myself in a period of general and photographic malaise following the death of
my mother, I was invited to come back to Colorado, to a friend's ranch near
Gypsum to photograph that year's calving. I wasn't hopeful of gathering much,
as my heart really wasn't in it. To my surprise, I found myself captivated by the
work of the ranchers I met, and made some pictures during the week that got
me excited about holding a camera again. My friendship has grown with these
wonderful people, and as they have introduced me to neighboring ranchers, so
has the series.”
Michael Crouser was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1962, and graduated from Saint
John's University (Collegeville, MN) in 1985. His first monograph, Los Toros, was published
by Twin Palms Publishers in the fall of 2007, and was given 1st Prize in the category of
Fine Art Book in the International Photography Awards. Both Los Toros and his second
book, Dog Run, were recognized in Communication Arts, PhotoDistrict News and the
Lucies/IPAs as being among the top ten photography books of their respective
publishing years. Three prints from the Los Toros series can be found in the permanent
collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Crouser is represented by galleries in Santa
Fe, Houston, New York, and Spain. His third book, with a working title of The West,
featuring black and white imagery of the disappearing world of cattle ranchers in
Colorado, will be published in the Spring of 2011. Michael Crouser splits his time
between Brooklyn and Minneapolis.