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Untitled, n.d. © Courtesy of Robert Koch Gallery

49 Geary St.
Suite 550
San Francisco, CA 94108
June 17th, 2010 - August 28th, 2010

Union Square/Civic Center
Tue-Sat 11-5:30


SAN FRANCISCO - Robert Koch Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs  by the reclusive Czech photographer Miroslav Tichý. Using cameras he made from cardboard  tubes, rubber bands, and wooden spools, with lenses of Plexiglas that he polished with  sandpaper, ashes, and toothpaste, Tichý, whose work has only recently received public  attention, spent decades photographing women in his hometown of Kyjov. The photographs,  often taken surreptitiously, are voyeuristic and exhaustive in their chronicling of the female  form. Tichý’s peripatetic wanderings with his camera produced images that transform  fragments of everyday life into something more mysterious and poetic.

From the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, Miroslav Tichý photographed the women of Kyjov, who were often unaware they were being documented. He photographed from waist  level, concealing the camera underneath a shaggy sweater, or from a distance, through  chain-link fences and across streets, using a telephoto lens he developed using found  material. The result is a dreamlike collection of figures, often blurred and cropped, each print a  ompletely unique object. The images resemble the early black-and-white paintings of  Gerhard Richter, and recall the photographs covertly taken by Walker Evans on the New York  ity subway in the 1930s.

Although his intuitive and amateurish process and the poor quality of the prints might indicate a naiveté in regards to artistic technique, Miroslav Tichý studied painting at the  Academy of Arts in Prague after World War II. He dropped out in 1948, after the communist takeover of  Czechoslovakia resulted in a change in curriculum at the Academy, one that demanded  social realism over individual artistic expression. Tichý briefly exhibited with the Brno Five, a  group of dissident antirealist painters, but suffered a mental collapse before an exhibition in  1957, and retired to his hometown of Kyjov, where he developed a reputation as a harmless,  but unusual, member of society. Although he continued to paint, photography became his  main mode of expression; his photographs can be aligned with the quiet subversiveness that  characterized the dissident movement in Prague after the spring of 1968, when protestors  reacted to the Soviet invasion with a non-violent approach. Tichý’s images quietly rebelled  against government-sanctioned social realism and mirrored dissidence among other Czech  artists and writers.

In 1981, Tichý’s body of work was brought to light by his longtime neighbor, psychiatrist  woman Buxbaum, who began efforts to document the artist and preserve the deteriorating   photographs. Since then, the photographs and cameras have been shown in solo exhibitions  at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kunsthaus Zürich, and the International Center of  Photography, New York, an exhibition favorably reviewed in the New York Times. The  photographs are also in the permanent collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern  Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A documentary film Buxbaum made in 2004,  Miroslav Tichý: Tarzan Retired, will be screened in the gallery.

Please contact the gallery at 415.421.0122 or for more information.