In 1951, Emila Medková met the circle of artists around the eminent Czech avant-garde artist, theoretician and writer Karel Teige. Following her marriage to the painter Mikuláš Medek, she started to take part in the group’s activities. Her first photographs were styled in the spirit of the poetics of Surrealism, while later she went on to photograph found objects – things stigmatized not just by usage, but also by neglect and the ravages of time. Her sober black-and-white images are impersonal, yet at the same time full of poignancy and an agonized complicity.
Pavel Nešleha likewise photographs places with a strong personal connection. “Asking myself what causes me to make those images, what drives me to revisit uprooted trees in the depth of the Šumava forest, sandstone rock formations, ghosts of ancient staircases, the landscape and horizons of the Central Bohemian highlands – the country of Karel Hynek Mácha’s peregrinations – the sculptures of Matthias Braun and Václav Levý, decaying and forsaken, and yet ever more eloquent as they melt into the surrounding nature. I realized that what I am seeking to unearth is something deep within, the bedrock of myself, or vestiges of the archetype of home, the homeland, the cultural tradition that has formed us.”
The photographs of Emila Medková and Pavel Nešleha differ in subject and format as well as their rendition. They are based on reality, yet are not descriptive. Though they do not portray the human form, their central theme is the transitoriness, precariousness and vulnerability of human existence.