Published by Safe-T-Gallery Inc.
Don Burmeister: Owner/Editor
Barbara Confino: Associate Editor
In my first year at an all-boys high school, a fellow adolescent created a minor schoolyard sensation with a small selection of pictures he had printed of a ‘friend’s sister,’ a young girl who was not shy around the camera. The furtive, smarmy feelings those hastily printed images generated is the unifying theme of the show currently at the Julie Saul Gallery. Its three photographers, Miroslav Tichy, Gerard Fieret, and Nikolay Bakharev, all have a heightened interest in women’s, and in one instance, men’s, bodies.
Miroslav Tichy is the best known of the three and his sudden rise in the art-photography world (a one-person show at ICP didn’t hurt) is as much a tribute to adroit marketing and promotion as to the inherent quality of his images. Trained as a painter, but living as a dissident, and then as a small-town eccentric near Prague, he gravitated into taking voyeuristic photographs at the local swimming pool, often using home-made cardboard cameras. His haphazard printing and careless handling and mountings add to the outsider luster of the images. Some of Tichy’s prints can be affecting and memorable, like blurred memories of a passing woman’s thigh, but in this commercial offering we seem to be reaching deep into the pile of the thousands of prints he made for his own personal use.
While the women in Tichy’s photographs were always seen at a distance, and are essentially unapproachable, the figures in Gerard Fieret’s photos are close, at times alarmingly close, and they are clearly interacting with the photographer. Fieret shares the haphazard printing techniques of Tichy, with some added quirks, such as rubber stamping his name and address on the front of the prints. But the frisson in the pictures comes from the evident tension in the models faces as they pose, alone and nude in his studio. He is not without his charms of course; a clever, double-exposed, double nude self portrait is notable primarily for his dashing 1960’s-style mustache.
The third photographer, Nikolay Bakharev, a generation younger than the others, lives and works in Siberia. Although a portfolio of ‘Private’ images is hinted at in the press materials for the show, the display is of ‘Public’ images: men and women, as couples or groups, posing in their swim-suits along the wooded shores of a never seen lake or river. The men in these images hold the most interest. Whether paired with women or in all male groups, they are always gaunt, closely cropped fellows, often with extensive tattoos and tense faces accentuated by a cigarette.
There is an erotic tension in the pictures by Bakharev too, but it is markedly different from the other two photographers. Whereas Tichy and Fieret are active components of their pictures, Bakharev takes on the traditional role of documentarian, presenting us with images that speak to us in the ‘third person.’ The erotic tensions in his pictures are between the people being photographed. In Tichy and Fieret, the images are decidedly ‘first person’, with the erotic heat right in your face.