Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cheap Art: Honza Hronek's Collodion Photography

(photo by Honza Hronek)

Like many before him, photographer Honza Hronek first picked up a camera in order to explore the land in front of him, foreign yet familiar, beautiful and waiting to be truly seen. Having moved to England from the Czech Republic at the age of 21, he quickly became connected with the idyllic countryside in a whole new way.

But a move to Paris a year later was the push that Hronek needed to drive him forward in his photography.

The gift of a vintage camera that belonged to his grandfather led him to experiment with new photographic techniques in our fair city. "Everything about his visual approach changed. The beauty and the light of the city captivated him," says his website.

But the precious acquisition of a 19th-century wet plate collodion camera inspired Hronek even further. The post-Daguerrotype camera, invented in the 1850s, gives unusual and beautiful results, with a catch. Gorgeously printed on black glass, the process requires quick work: the artist must develop and set the photograph completely within about 10 minutes. This requires a portable dark room, good instincts and fast fingers. It took him over a year to collect the materials necessary, but the difficulty did not dissuade Hronek - in fact, it seems only to have spurred him on. "I prefer things to be complicated, rather than easy, to create," he says. Spoken like a true artist.

The difficulty was well worth it - photographs of this technique are incredibly unique, dramatic and gorgeous. Hronek's photographic series "We Are Not Just Waiters" goes on display Monday at the Rose Bakery (the staff of which make up the subjects of the photos). The exhibit runs until December, but if I were you I'd go Monday night - the opening features a live jazz band and everything.

"We Are Not Just Waiters"
Opening: Monday, 10/22 6-9pm, on view until December 23
Rose Bakery
Métro: M8 to Filles du Calvaire

*Note: This post also appeared on Untapped Paris

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