Miroslav Tichý

Reading Aidan Dunne in the Irish Times today, there was a review of shows by photographer Miroslav Tichý and Irish artist Orla Whelan. They were somewhat tenuously linked in the article partially due to their subject matter and partially due to the photographic appearance of Whelan’s paintings.

Tichý, now in his 80’s, is from the Czech republic. He originally trained as a painter before turning to photography. He never intended to exhibit, but his work has recently been discovered. A neighbour, Roman Buxbaum, began collecting his work and this led to his first solo exhibition in Seville in 2004.

What can be said about his methods and photography? Tichý cobbled his cameras together from old Russian bodies and lenses from bits of old pipe and various other appendages. He developed film in a kettle and printed by moonlight. The current generation of “lomographers” could learn a lot from him, not to mention the legions of digital shooters spending thousands on the latest DSLRs and discussing their merits on countless forums across the web.

The resulting photographs are grey, washed out, stained and poorly cared for. They are quite voyeristic, women and the female form being his favourite subject and making up the bulk of his work. I think they make up a fantastic body of work, 30 years of obsessive homemade photography with the eye of an artist.

I suspect that Orla Whelan did not have Tichý on her mind when producing her current exhibition, At The Heart of Chance. What interests me as a photographer is that she has painted almost monochrome. As Dunne says in his article

“…The paint surface is relatively mean, not especially sensual at all, and in this (as well as the fact that the paintings are monochrome) the work seems to refer to photography rather than to, say, Lucian Freud’s practice of embodying flesh in pigment through exhaustive observation. …”

You can read the article in todays Irish Times, or online at the IT website –


Miroslav Tichý , plus, in Gallery 2, Annelies Štrba Photographs . Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College Until Jan 22. At the Heart of Chance , paintings by Orla Whelan. Gallery Two: Inhabit Works by Black Church Print Studio members. Draíocht, Blandchardstown Centre

– Rory


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