Millennial Issue 

Spring 2000




Kamil Varga






Artist's Statement





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Staged Photography


"If one test of a staged photographer is how minimal his resources and how much he can say, Kamil Varga is the winner. About 70 % of his work is self portraiture with light drawings in what seems to be his kitchen. Sometimes he uses a table or a chair. This minimalism seems almost zen and the portraits likewise are metaphysical. He seems to be reminding us that the simple questions can be the most profound: Who am I? Why am I here? Maybe it is because he is painting with light, but he seems intensely concerned with life as energy-and he uses the body to externalize this life force. Each of his photographs is a painting or drawing it takes hours to layer enough light to expose the film. He works equally well in black and white, but color seems closer to his topic of energy and radiance. There is very little description of space in his images, he seems to work in infinity, or inside his own mind. Recently he has been working on a larger scale outdoor series involving other people and flaming torches. It is almost as if he has moved from a discussion of the self to one of communities of people. It will be interesting to see what he does next."

Anne Arden McDonald (Curator for Czech and Slovak staged photographs.)

"For Kamil Varga, concentration on one aim is dominant. Stubbornness is characteristic of him as an artist and as a person. It is as if he constantly takes one and the same photograph, without exact repetition, but revealing new forms of the same theme. If we could name a key theme of his creative work, the best term would be human identity, the variety of existence, which appears to be so obvious and simple at first sight.

"... From the multitude of photographic possibilities, techniques and technologies, luminography determines Varga’s creative work. He uses it in the spirit of multiple exhibitions. It is not that other approaches, productions or portraits did not appear in his works, but multiple luminographic montages dominate. In the background of this choice is Varga’s philosophy, in which the work is not understood as an impersonal aesthetic product, shape or autonomous structure, which needs to be brought to an ideal form, but as itself an expression, a search in which the process of origin is part of the answer to the question. Varga leaves doubts, parentheses, mumbled sentences images, in his photographs. He offers work in the form of a daily record, which is not important only for a concluding aphoristic simple statement, but also for the route of a crystal clear formulation. Varga’s approach is like that of a painter who repaints a picture with new layers, but at the same time takes care that the original remains part of the finished work and is important for an impression of the work. For Varga the process is part of the work, this is the clear opposite of aestheticism, which sees a photograph as a beautiful object, win which it is necessary to be subordinate to the rules of the game and not to publish doubts and searches for form.

"... In the artist’s creative work, three basic positions overlap the individual (deep) psychological, metaphysical, and ritual. These three elements determine the skeleton of his work. Sometimes one approach is in the foreground, sometimes another, but in principle they are always an inseparable part of Varga’s poetics."

Excerpted from the preface to Kamil Varga by Václav Macek





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