Pavel Baňka

Pavel Baňka

If we tried to imagine Pavel Baňka’s creative life as a photograph, its inherently transient nature would probably show very soon. There would be a steady stream of portraits, staged figurative actions, spaces artificially created by
the artist himself, images verging on the abstract, as well as landscapes and interiors with a spiritual dimension.

If we tried to imagine Pavel Baňka’s creative life as a photograph, its inherently transient nature would probably show very soon. There would be a steady stream of portraits, staged figurative actions, spaces artificially created by
the artist himself, images verging on the abstract, as well as landscapes and interiors with a spiritual dimension. Such an imaginary picture would then suggest a host of frameworks within which Baňka’s work might be arranged, based on various inner and external criteria – just as the motif of the frame itself keeps recurring throughout Baňka’s work. A biographical angle would show that ever since his beginnings as a self-taught photographer, Baňka has retained his determination to search and invent, thus keeping at bay any danger of artistic stagnation, while always putting new approaches to the test.

Within the framework of Czech photography, Baňka’s place would be somewhere behind the founding father figure of Jan Sudek, whom he also references in his early works, and alongside Jan Svoboda, with whom he also shares an interest in the work of renowned Czech glass and jewellery artists. In Baňka’s nudes and some of the portraits, we can also find traces of another giant of Czech photography, František Drtikol. Like Drtikol, Baňka’s main objective is not creating a mere image of the subject, but rather constructing
a photographic picture, where the photographed figure acts only as a fully integrated, yet provocative, part of the whole. In Baňka’s photographs, a piece of jewellery does not function as a mere decoration of the model but rather as an extension of their body and an expression of their mood. With each small prop, the spatial dimensions and inner meaning of the portrait shift.

This book focuses mainly on Baňka’s early work and is divided into three
areas entitled Construction, Figuration, and Abstraction. The title Construction refers to the way an image is constructed by light. Baňka photographs
panels of mirrors placed in a landscape, he opens windows, thus reflecting
and focusing the view into the interior. The mechanisms of light shining through or being reflected, as captured in Baňka’s photographs, refine both the vision and the awareness of space. In his kinetic, phased figurative pictures (Figuration), Baňka’s wife, his daughter, or he himself then become the protagonists of a few second-long photographic actions: a simple movement creates a sequence, interconnecting personal and general levels. Other photographs play out almost on the surface so to speak. The term Abstraction is not used to suggest the notion that images lose their descriptiveness – rather, they shed the shackles of exact contours, becoming blurry and gaining evocativeness. In his experiments with exposure length, the immediate moment of a picture being taken is enriched by the time frame of the past as well as
of the possible, just as Baňka himself seems to suggest when he speaks
of “recollections” and “imaginations”.

/by Vojtěch Marc, for Pavel Baňka “Reflection”, book published by Schilt Publishing Gallery, Amsterdam, 2016/

Solo Exhibition in Czech Republic

2011 • Not just Marginals, Dům umění města Brna, Brno (catalogue included)

2011 • On Photography, Špálova galerie v Praze, Prague

2010 • From My Life, together with Sivia Milková, Galerie 5. patro, Prague

2008 • Photographs from the Collection of PPF Art, Galerie Louvre, Prague

2007 • Brightened Night, Galerie Feducia, Ostrava

2007 • Pavel Baňka, Jindra Viková: In the Landscape, Český Krumlov, Castle Máselnice

2003 • Infinity, Galerie města Bratislava, Month of Photography, Bratislava, Slovakia

2003 • Terezin /Mansfield, Národní galerie, Veletržní palác, Prague

2001 • Infinity, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (catalogue included)

1999 • All and Nothing, Pražský hrad, Purkrabství, Prague

1998 • Galerie umění, Karlovy Vary

1995 • Dům umění města Brna, Brno

1995 • Pražský dům fotografie, Prague

1992 • Malá galerie ČS spořitelny, Kladno

1991 • Galerie čs. Spisovatele, Prague

1991 • Galerie G4, Cheb

1988 • Galerie Fotochema, Prague

1980 • Galerie Centrum, Prague

1979 • Galerie ve veži, Mělník

Solo Exhibitions Abroad 

2011 • Spiritual spaces, SouthEast Museum of Photography, Daytona, Fl. USA (catalogue included)

2009 • Fotografie, Galerie Lenka T, Art Karlsruhe, Germany

2006 • Infinity, České centrum, Paris, France

2006 • Agraria et Marginalia, České centrum, Paris, France

2005 • Infinity, Terezin-Mansfield, Museum fotografie, Charleroi, Belgium

2005 • Terezín-Mansfield, Derby, art fair Format 05

2003 • Infinity, Galerie města Bratislava, Slovakia

2003 • Klotz/Sirmon Gallery, New York, USA

2003 • Hospice Comtesse, Transphotographies Festival, Lille, France

2003 • Gallery Witteveen, Amsterodam, The Netherlands

2002 • Biennal of Photography, Moskva, Russia

2002 • Art Museum, Rogensburg, Germany

2002 • Espoo Art Museum, Helsinky, Finnland

2001 • Klotz/Sirmon Gallery, New York, USA

2001  Out of Time, Alutechna Factory, Benátky, Italy

2001 • Paris Photo, Carrousel Louvre, Paříž, France

2000 • Stephen Cohen Gallery, LA, USA

2000 • FOTOFEST HOUSTON, New Gallery, TX, USA

1999 • Benham Gallery, Seattle, USA

1999 • S.K. Josefsberg Studio Gallery, Portland, USA

1999 • Fotoforum Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

1997 • S.K.Josefsberg Studio, Portland, USA

1996 • Gallery Groll, Naarden, The Netherlands

1996 • Galerie Avantgarda, Wroclaw, Poland

1993 • Works Gallery, Philadelphia, USA

1993 • Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, USA

1993 • Linda Walcott-Moore Gallery, San Francisco, USA

1992 • Lajos Keresztes Gallery, Norimberg, Germany

1991 • Jacques Baruch Gallery, Chicago, USA

1990 • Fotografisk Gallery, Kodaň, Denmark

1990 • Galerie 410, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

1989 • Čs. kulturní středisko, Havana, Kuba

1989 • Čs. kulturní středisko, Budapešť, Hungary

1988 • Hyppolite Gallery, Helsinky, Finnland

1987 • Alvar Aalto Muzeum, Jyvaskyla, Finnland

1985 • Middlesex County State College, Edison, New Jersey, USA

Group Exhibitions in Czech Republic (Selection)  

2008 • Czech Photography of the 20th Century, Městská knihovna, Prague (catalogue included)

2004 • 2 + 18, Galerie pošta, Museum v Ústí nad Labem, together with Michaela Thelenová and a selection of 18 students of FUUD J. E. Purkyně’s University, Ústí nad Labem

2003 • 2 + 19, Muzeum Liberec, kolektivní 2 pedagogues and 19 students

2000 • Nude in Czech Photography 1960–2000, Císařská jízdárna, Pražský hrad, Prague

1996 • Security and Searching in Czech Photography of the 90s, Nejvyšší purkrabství Pražského hradu, Prague

1988 • Journeys of Czech Photography, Národní galerie, Valdštejnská jízdárna, Prague

1984 • 70s’ Generation, Galerie Fotochema, Prague

1982 • Contemporary Photography, Moravská galerie, Brno

1980 • Interior Photography, Galerie Centrum, Prague

Group Exhibitions abroad (Selection)

2010 • Ostrale, Dresden, Germany

2010 • Czech Photography of the 20th Century, Bonn, Germany

1999 • Czech Potography of the 90s, Chicago Cultural Center, USA

1994 • Nudes, Spiral Hall, Tokyo, Japan

1994 • Contemporary Czech and Slovak Photohraphy, Photography Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

1992 • What’s New: Prague, Art Institute of Chicago, USA

1991 • Plastic Photography – Czechoslovak and Dutch Photography, Foto Biennale Enschede, The Netherlands

1991 • Fancy Road (5 Czechoslovak Photographers), Parco Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

1990 • Contemporary Czechoslovak Photography, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

1990 • Looking East, Lappenhallen, Arhaus Festival, Denmark

1990 • Quick Pictures, Contemporary Photography in Conversation, Kunstlerhaus, Vienna, Austria

1990 • Selection 19 – Perspectives-Real and Imaginary, Fotofest Houston, USA

1990 • A Reflexion of Events (Four Czechoslovak Photographers), Robert B. Menschell Gallery, Syracuse, USA

1988 • Contemporary Czechslovak Photography, Plovdiv Foto Festival, Bulgaria

1986 • Fifty Years of Colour Photography, Photokina, Cologne, Germany

1986 • Selection III by Polaroid Co., Cologne, Germany

1985 • Origin and Presence of Czech Photography, Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

1984 • Selection II. by Polaroid Co., Photokina, Cologne, Germany

Competitions and Symposia

photography fair FOTOFEST Houston, USA

Biennale of Photography, Moscow, Russia

Paris Photo, Paris, France

Photography Month, Bratislava, Slovakia


1993 • Marylands Arts Council Grant, Visiting Artist, Baltimore, USA

1990 • Fulbright Grant – lecturing at numerous American universities

1987 Residential Grant, Light Work, Syracuse N.Y., USA


Moravská Galerie, Brno, Czech Republic

Severočeské oblastní muzeum, Liberec, Czech epublic

Museum fotografie, Charleroi, Belgium

Saint Louis Museum of Fine Arts, Minneapolis, USA

Art Institute of Chicago, USA

George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y., USA

Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA

The Buhl Collection, USA

Paris Audio Visual, Paris, Francie

Parco Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

Baruch Collection, Chicago, USA

Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, USA

ICP Collection, New York, USA

Gersheim Collection, Austin, Texas, USA

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland

Everson Museum, Syracuse, N.Y., USA

Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France

Polaroid Collection, Offenbach, Germany

Authorial Workshops

1999 • Letní workshop Pražského domu fotografie v Popradě, Slovakia

1999 • Workshop ad the Fotoforum Frankfurt, Germany

1992–1995 • summer workshop at the Prague Photography House, Prague

1994 • Elam School of Art, Auckland, New Zealand

1990 • Institute of San Francisco, USA

1990 • University of Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

1988 • Plovdiv Festival, Bulgaria

1985 • Edison, New Jersey, USA

Teaching Experience

2005–2009 • Visiting Professor for European Photography, University of Derby, Derby, GB

2002 • Visiting Artist a pedagog, University of Connecticut, Stors, Connecticut, USA

1999 • Visiting Artist a pedagog, Oregon College of Art and Crafts, Portland, USA

1992–1993 • Visiting Artist a pedagog, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA

1991 • Visiting Artist a pedagog, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA