Pinkava, Ivan / Bed I
photograph, gelatin silver print, 280 × 190 mm
purchased in 2019 with support from the Czech Republic Ministry of Culture
Pinkava’s oeuvre moves on the boundary between portraits and nudes. He chooses models with atypical body structure or facial physiognomy, imbuing his photographs with an almost trans-personal dimension. He often depicts androgynous types. The atypical nature of his models, and their “damaged beauty” (Martin C. Putna), enables him to shift interpretations into the domain of comments on traditional Biblical and ancient themes, archetypical figures, or fateful relationships. Pinkava is also known for his photographic portraits of well-known figures from the arts; his photograph of the poet J. H. Krchovský is literally iconic. The controlled stylization and poses of Pinkava’s models are inspired by historical portraiture from the Renaissance, Baroque or Mannerist eras, so his oeuvre can be viewed through a contemporary prism as a form of post-production.
The other main facet of Pinkava’s work encompasses his still lifes, which thematize the transience of beauty and life in general; he himself describes these photographic concepts as “Vanitas”. However, this transience is paradoxically set within a form of timeless light and space, wrenched out of the context of tangible existence. This convolute of photographs by Ivan Pinkava is an important example of Czech staged photography.