591 Exhibition - Stanko Abadzic
Spotlight: Stanko Abadzic
One of the great ironies of globalization is that as people become more connected to technology — email, cell phones, Ipods — they often become less connected to one another.
This growing rift in the social fabric has been duly noted by Croatia’s Stanko Abadzic, whose deeply humanistic photographs resonate with wistful regard for a time when people were in tune with each other spiritually and emotionally rather than electronically. This accounts for the seemingly “old- fashioned” aesthetic of his images, many of which, with their geometric composition, sensual atmosphere and telling detail, look as if they could have been made in the 1940s or earlier.
“The faster we live, the less emotion is left in the world. The slower we live, the deeper we feel the world around us,” he says. “I am not against globalization in general, but I am against the physical and spiritual uniformity of cities and towns dominated by multinational corporations.
Globalization turns us into passive consumers. It is not interested in our creativity or our individuality. We lose our happiness when we lose our sense of identity.”
Having been compelled to change countries several times during his life while striving to preserve his spiritual identity helps explain the sense of connection Abadzic celebrates in photographs like “A Circle.”
Taken during a troubled transitional period in Berlin, the image elegantly evokes a spirit of closeness and cooperation. Yet the modernist juxtaposition of shadow and light — Abadzic’s trademark — balances the mood and prevents the image from tipping over into sentimentality.
Abadzic was born in Vukovar, Croatia in 1952. His father, recognizing Stanko’s susceptibility to the old world charm of this city on the Danube, presented him with a Russian camera on his 15th birthday. Abadzic taught himself the technical basics while refining his vision by attending exhibitions, studying photography books and watching television and films.He joined a photo club, exhibited his early work, and earned money taking pictures of weddings and soccer clubs. Abadzic subsequently joined the staff of the newspaper Vjesnik as a photojournalist, married and started a family. This tranquil existence, however, was brutally interrupted by the outbreak of Croatia’s war of independence in 1991. “I moved my family to Germany thinking things would soon settle down and that we could move back to Vukovar, but it did not happen,” Abadzic recalls.The dark years of physical and creative displacement ended when Abadzic moved to Prague on a sunny August day in 1995. The warmth of the sun symbolized for Abadzic the city’s positive energy. Feeling a sense of rebirth, he began exploring Prague with his medium-format camera, leaving behind the photojournalist and discovering the artist within.“I slowly peeked behind the curtain, entered old backyards overgrown with ivy where time had stopped,” he says. “I met people who remained original and authentic, people in no hurry, people who refused to take part in the extremes of globalization. The more I unveiled Prague, the more I began to experience photography as an art form. The sensation was intense, like a volcanic eruption.”
Abadzic moved back to his homeland in 2002, settling in the capital city of Zagreb, but retained his Czech residence permit and returns periodically to Prague.
“The mass media bombard us with images of blood and tears,” he states. “It’s high time we showed interest in beauty and aesthetics, not just in wars and catastrophes. I still believe photography can touch people emotionally. I believe a photograph can be a testimony and a document of its time, and that it can inspire us to talk to each other and make a better world.” Excerpts from an essay by © Dean Brierly (you will find the full text on Stanko's website)
It has been a long exhibition season on 591 Photography Gallery. Starting with Thomas Håkansson on Nov 9, 2008 and terminating today with Stanko Abadzic. My sincere thanks to all photographers who have participated in the first season of this project.
It is a great joy for me to have Stanko exhibiting his work on 591. He says that he beleives that "a photograph can inspire us to talk to each other and make a better world". It is a beautiful mission and the photographs are right there before our eyes to prove his statement.
His work appeals to me a lot - reading the excellent essay by Dean Brierly makes me feel like finding a friend out there in modern European history. Stanko's work does not recognize any borders or frontlines, it is universal - telling the story of human beings inhabiting a tormented planet.
There are shadows behind the light - yes, we are aware of that. Stanko Abadzic finds the light behind the shadows and touches the essence of photography as a part of our human existence. - Mr Urbano
All photos © Stanko Abadzic
Lives in: Zagreb, Croatia
Recent exhibitions: New York: "Stanko Abadzic Photographs", Bielsko-Biala, Poland: "Out of the shadows", Zagreb: "100 photographs", Tokyo: "Photographs from Croatia", Belgrade: "Prag - Skice za portret grada"