Gustav Aulehla — Well hidden photographs
Photo exhibition in Leica Gallery
A few shots from the installation are below.
The exhibition ‘Well hidden photographs’ displays a work of a photographer whom we may consider a well-hidden gem that emerged on the scene and got into public awareness just a few years ago when his book Sudetská kronika was published (2020). His first book Photographs 1957-1990 was published in 2009 though.
Born in Olomouc in 1931 (✝2021), he is one of the pioneers of humanitarian documentary photography in former Czechoslovakia. The main body of work consists of photographs taken from the 50s to the 80s. Aulehla captured daily life, ordinary people on the streets, his family and neighbours, but also well-known people (Jan Werich), celebrations, and historic events like the Russian invasion in 1968. His photographic life was very active as we can say from the size of his archive (60–90 thousand snaps). It’s interesting to note that Vivian Maier left behind around 100 thousand negatives that no one has seen before, so Aulehla is not far behind in this aspect.
To paraphrase from the accompanying exhibition material: As we can’t define a place of origin or the essence of power that makes an artist to capture his inner seeing, or the images of the outer world, we don’t know either what drove Aulehla to carry his Leica around his neck so he could fill his photographic daily diary. Growing up in very modest conditions and adopted by Aulehla family, we know his life wasn’t a walk in the park. Contrary to the wealthy family of Henri Cartier-Bresson who could pursue his artistic career more freely. In fact, Aulehla took inspiration from Cartier-Bresson and tried to encompass certain photographic principles into his work. For example don’t interfere the scene, composition is done the moment you press the shutter, don’t crop or enlarge the photos, etc.
The influence of Cartier-Bresson is apparent. You can see well balanced composition and many suprising, decisive moments. The photos of the exhibition are thematically devided into several categories like Moments, Fauna, He does that…, etc. It doesn’t really matter what section you start with becasue each photo is worth contemplating on its own and you will find your favorites you will want to return to after you see the rest. Be it a portrait of a woman on a street holding a radio anxiously listening to the news about the occupation, a funny photo of a curious pig looking out of a building next to a gypsy family in Slovakia or a fabulous street moment called Mirrors.
After you finish the main exibition, a photo book store awaits you where you can check many titles from both the local and the international photography scene. At the time of our visit (29.01.) the books of Gustav Aulehla were unfortunately sold out but we were told that re-stock is expected.