Critics’ Picks

Untitled, 2000–2005.

Untitled, 2000–2005.


Jitka Hanzlová

Galleria Raffaella Cortese | Via Stradella 7
Via Stradella 7
March 3–May 12, 2006

This exhibition includes part of “Forest,” 2000–2005, a series of forty-five photographs shot by Jitka Hanzlová in the Carpathian Mountains, near the Czech village where she lived as a child before emigrating, for political reasons, to Germany in 1983. The “Forest” photographs are silent and poetic, and feature images of tree trunks, vegetation, roots, and spiders and their webs, all captured in the purplish-blue, opaque, nighttime light that one associates with secrets and mysterious moods. While Hanzlová is known principally for her portrait work, particularly of women (the series “Female,” 2000), her strong interest in landscape stretches all the way back to her first body of photographs, “Rokytn’k,” taken in 1990. “Forest” is a landscape of memory, of childhood; it is a cipher that stands in for disparate situations and past events. Each picture is shot using natural light and printed in a small format; Hanzlová also heightens the luminous atmospheres’ most specific tones, emphasizing the contrasts between iridescent colors and the densest, saturated blacks. As in her earlier photographs, here one has the feeling that Hanzlová looks and listens in order to grasp additional, metaphorical meanings rooted in personal memory and collective history. She seeks out evocative details, the microcosms that generate small stories.

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.