No title, undated © Anton Podstrasky

For a long period of time – from the middle of the 1960s to the 1990s, Podstraský’s photographs were found in newspapers, most freequently in dailies and their supplements, less often in illustrated magazines and only exceptionally in professional photography journals. Perhaps this is why his first two exhibitions were held in newspaper buildings – in 1969 in the foyer of the Smena office and in 1985 in the Roháč office. Podstraský experienced the same fate as many photographers whose work was scattered in newspapers and magazines; despite the huge amount of published photographs he remained little known as a photographer and his profile remained unclear.

Throughout most of the 1960s, Podstraský published film photographs (he also worked as the photographer for the Slovak Film Studios in Koliba, Bratislava); he began to publish live documentary photography at the end of this decade, in the fleeting days of the liberalized social situation in Czechoslovakia. He took advantage of the fading cultural climate which continued for the some time, even after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies in August 1968. The next two to three years were the most prolific period of his career. In 1971, the first and so far last article on his work was published in a professional journal. At that time, Ľudovít Hlaváč, a photographic historian and curator, also noticed his work and published a brief profile of Podstraský in his extensive Dejiny slovenskej fotografie (History of Slovak Photography), which was published in 1989.

Although Podstraský liked to shoot the dynamics of life, his recordings of gloominess, helplessness, personal and social resignation and stagnation are perhaps more important for the history of photography. Only a few like him presented typical expressions of social stagnation, which was the true picture of real socialism in the final phase of its existence. His images of „suspended existence“ are disturbing, despite the fact that they are related to an extinct historical epoch.

Aurel Hrabušický, extract from a text „Images of Failures and Decadence“

Anton Podstrasky - Anton Podstrasky

10/09/2015 - 22/11/2015

Leica Gallery Prague

Školská 28
110 00 Praha 1

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