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 
fashioned” aesthetic of his images, many of which, with their geometric 
composition, sensual atmosphere and telling detail, look as if they could 
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 
of identity.”

Having been compelled to change countries several times during his life 
while striving to preserve his spiritual identity helps explain the sense 
 connection Abadzic celebrates in photographs like “A Circle.”

Taken during 
a troubled transitional period in Berlin, the image elegantly evokes a 
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 

“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

Stanko Abadzic
Born: 1952
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"


Paolo Saccheri said…
Yes! Definitely a wonderful work!

being at the border of Hungary close to Vukovar in 1991 to report on refugees I understand some of your world closely.
Anonymous said…
One of my favorite photographer. Outstanding work. A true master of black and white photography!!

Håkan Strand
br said…
wonder work!! A shadow master!!!
Rhonda Boocock said…
lovely to enter this world of shadow and light! wonderful images!
Henrik said…
Very fine works!
Mikael said…
Amazing and spellbinding!
Oskarp Mask said…
A Rodchenko for 2000s! Takes one back to the times of Moholy-Nagy & Kertesz. Wonderful.
GC said…
fabulous images!