Peter ZUPNIK displays a snapshot of everyday life from which surges a core of absurdity or slavonic humour. And this by placing a filter of very subtle pastel which makes each printing unique. From FAMU, he is considered by Daniela Mrazkova, as one of the foremost photographers of this famous school in the '80s. His photographs are exhibited widely in Europe and the United States.
Exhibitions & art fairs
1981-86 : Studied Artistic photography et FAMU, Prague, Czech Republic
1976-80 : Secondary School of Applied Art, Kosice, Slovakia
2017 : Spisské Muzeum, Levoča, Slovakia<
2004 : Prague Castle, Czech Republic
2003 : Museum Quartier, Vienna, Austria
2002 : KunstRAI, Amsterdam, Pays-Bas ;
Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia
1998 : Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland ;
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, United States
1996 : National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic ;
Museum of Photography, Braunschweig, Germany
1990 : Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
Austria: Vienna (Cultural Center)
Belgium : Antwerp (Galerie Baudelaire)
Czech Republic : Cheb (Galerie 4) ; Litomysl (Zamecké navrsi) ; Prague (Nikon Photo Gallery, Artinbox Gallery, FAMU, Rockfoto, Galerie Ceské Pojiskovni, Galerie Joseph Sudek, Nostress Gallery, Public Library, French Institute of Prague, Prague House of Photography)
France : Chantilly (Centre culturel) ; Fontainebleau ; Issy Les Moulineaux (Espace Icare) ; Le Kremlin-Bicêtre (Théâtre du Kremlin-Bicêtre) ; Paris (Galerie Arcturus, Galerie Bernanos, Galerie Le Pont Neuf, Centre Culturel Tchèque, Maison de l’Europe, Palais de Justice, Vidéothèque de Paris) ;
Netherlands: Geldrop (Gallery Gijzenrooi)
Slovakia: Bratislava (K Gallery, Galéria Cypriana Majerníka) ; Košice (Galéria J. Jakobyho) ; Levoča (Galéria Mesta Levoča, Cultural Center) ; Trencin (Galéria Milosa Alexandra Bazovského)
Belgium : FOTOFEVER, Brussels
Czech Republic : Mikoulov Symposium, Mikoulov ; « Umeni porodt », Palais Veletrzni, Prague
France : Art Paris (Galerie Arcturus) ; Rencontres internationales de la photographie, Arles ; Biennale internationale de Marseille ; Rencontres photographiques de la Normandie
Germany : « Tschechische Fotografie des 20, Jharhunderts », Bonn
Netherlands : Fotobiennale, Enschede ; KunstRai, Amsterdam
United States : Fotofest Houston
Czech Republic : Umeleckoprumyslove Muzeum, Prague ; PPF, Prague ; Moravska galerie, Brno
France : Centre Pompidou, Paris ; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris ; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
Slovakia : Galeria umelcov Spisa, Spisska Nova Ves ; Slovenska Narodna Galeria, Bratislava
Swiss : Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne
United States : Gernsheim Collection, Austin, Texas ; The Forbes Collection, Boston ; Meda Mladkova Collection ; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
2010 : Lucia Fi Erova, « Peter ZUPNIK », FOTOTORST, Torst, Prague
2003 : Peter Zupnik, « Prague, mémoires nocturnes », catalogue de l’exposition au Centre tchèque de Paris
1993 : V. Macek, « Peter ZUPNIK », Martin, Osveta, Slovaquie
1991 : V. Birgus, « Ceska a slovenska fotografie 80 »let in: « Ceska a sloveska fotografie dnes, Orbis ;
P. Buchler, « Six Czechoslovak Photographers », Creative Camera
1989 :D. Mrazkova, V. Remes, « Peter Zupnik. Cesty ceskoslovenske fotografie », Prague, Mlada Fronta ;
D. Mrazkova, « 150 let fotografie », Prague, Videopress
I have always like to gaze at ordinary things that appeared to me to be perfect- flowers, stones, fruits, animals. As if the observer penetrated them and they open further their inner core to me. Nowadays, during recent years I have returned to this kind of observation. I has also come about due to the situation ‘in the family life’- less movement out in the open and the resulting more intense observation of the proximate environs. A deeper perception of common things.
My picture has always been a reflection of the life I am just living. This linkage still goes on. I create items into certain wholes, which I gradually complete. Great little things belong among them. Every completion of a photograph is a red-letter day to me. It is a state of bliss when I succeed in getting into a picture what I had intended to. A fine colour touch right into the photograph helps me fully to meet my ideas regarding the final form of the picture. Of late, this finishing touch is very gentle and carries very little colour and maybe will cease completely in time.
I work slowly, time alone will show which of the picture are good. I lay them by to ripen. It helps some – as in the case of good wine. My search for a perfect composition, gentle light, balance of stress and clam goes on. A search for my picture is in fact like rummaging through the swamp of the humdrum. I do not look for beauty where it is readily visible.
A black-and-white snapshot stops time. Quickens the imagination, uncovers the essence of things. And common things themselves turn to something quite different from what they are, our fantasy is busy within them, it might do just to take a better glimpse of them.
Peter ZUPNIK, Paris 2001
PETER ZUPNIK – GREAT LITTLE THINGS
Peter Zupnik is considered the most poetic photographer of the ‘New Wave’, differing from contemporaries in his generation in the manner of his work. He does not stage the photograph, he does not set it into the form of a preconceived situation. He seeks snapshots from which he can conjure spontaneous tales, fantastical, playful spells about all manner of things. He seizes a dishevelled reality with an artless clarity close to a game. His creative ‘ritual’ is seemingly simple: from a mass of photographic material he gropes for contact-print which have a tinge of mystery. He enlarges them and is carried away by fantasy: every photograph he touches with a soft, pastel stoke thus creating a unique original. From the same negative a similar artwork never arises – his artistic touch varies them.
‘When I begin to touch a photograph, I have never have an exact plan for what will arise. I desire something, I fell and all at once it appears… Thus, I put thing together which are seemingly unconnected. I push at the border of logic which actually does not exist for me – the picture receives its new dimension…’
Zupnik’s art is difficult to organise chronologically: it overlaps, many times returning to older archived negatives which the author ‘renovates’ with pastels.
‘I always do photographs without continuity and logic and only after some years. I have discovered some connections, some bounds which are inherent in my work and to which I return: certainly AS IF STILL LIVES-things found on tables, windows, plaster work which I document and then I add something more to them or I remove something from them. After ANIMALS- cats, birds, some illusions about the world, nature and its mysteries… In recent years, I moved closer and closer to common place, simple and unobserved things. Thus LITTLE BIG THINGS. Perhaps once a single collection will arise devoted unambiguously to detail. I change seemingly small things to large- they are only one element of a mosaic in an attempt to touch the eternal.
Zupnik’s photography creates an imaginative world of tales and fantasies, full of a more or less complicated, shaped and coloured variety. An interest in music and poetry which have become a lasting source of inspiration is fused into many works. ‘Things which don’t leave me indifferent and which leave me new impressions are film and music. I never plan any cycle with any photographs connected to another: a single photograph is one large tale without a sequel- the definitive story…’.
Lucia BENICKA, 2001