Martin Martincek: Time of the Sun

Translator: Michael Kopanic   Photographer: Martin Martincek
Product Code: 5165
ISBN: 978-0-86516-516-8
Pages: 64
Availability: In stock.
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What the abstract-expressionist artist of the twentieth century created with paints on canvas, Martin Martincek accomplished in photographic images. Time of the Sun treats us to new abstract realities generated by the interplay between water and the sun, captured by his camera to give to these fleeting and unique epiphanies permanent existence and to us joy forever.

Since Martincek is 88 years old, this may be his last cycle: photographic abstractions. In his long career as an artist-photographer, we see him go through many cycles from totally realistic to totally abstract as can be documented in a dozen or so books in which his photographs have been published in the past 50 years. In previous decades of his life, he devoted his photography to ethnography, focusing on the country and people of Central Europe.

In this his latest work, the question arises, "What are the limits of photography?" Has it reached its potential in Martincek's photographic abstractions?

In September of 1998, the Martin Benka Prize was awarded to a photographer for the first time, with the following words: Martincek's photography "is like sculpture in its grandiosity. It is like painting in its picturesqueness. It is like graphic art in its accuracy."

Dr. Martin Martincek, educated to be a lawyer, was prevented by Communists from practicing law fifty years ago. Felix culpa! He became the most outstanding Slovak photographer.

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Review by: Robert Davis, Kosmas: Czechoslovak and Central European Journal - November 1, 2005
Marian Pauer, ed. Martin Martincek. Martin, Slovakia: Library of Matica Slovenska, and Wauconda, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2003. 160 pp. ISBN 0865165165. The only fault I can find with this volume of striking photographs of rural Slovak life that has all but disappeared is that the text introducing individual sections has not, unlike all the other printed material, been translated into English. Fortunately, the biographical data and bibliographies at the end are accessible to Anglophones, and at least the outline of Martincek's career can be traced, from his birth and early education in the Liptovsky region just below the High Tatra Mountains in north central Slovakia, to his post-war government work, to his imprisonment, exile from Bratislava to his home region and physical labor, to his rehabilitation as a photog-rapher and a growing number of honors. Most important, of course, are the black and white photographs, which stand majestically without commentary and could even do without captions. Except for a few soft-focus color photographs, some black and white shots that resemble abstract paint-ings, and others which anthropomorphize grains in wood, most of the plates show rural people and scenes from a world that has all but disappeared. The people are mostly aged, some crippled, but their faces often have a dignity and even a sense of joy. In "At Noon," a man carrying a board on his shoulders casts a shadow like a cross. In "To the Field," angled house roofs turn to a jumble at the top of the photo, while in the foreground a wagon with a team of oxen and two tiny human figures moves parallel to the bottom of the image, the stillness and simplicity empha-sized by what lies above it. The landscapes are equally impressive. "At the Old Cemetery" shows wooden crosses almost engulfed in swirls of grass, while other shots of strips of cultivated fields look almost like flags. "After the Harvest" depicts rows of haystacks receding to the horizon in a beauty that is not quite regular. But the portraits of individuals are the major humanistic as well as artistic achievement of this volume, which, as far as I can tell from the bibliography, is the first by Martincek to be available to American readers. Judging from this collection, he stands easily in the company of Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and other major land-scape photographers, as well as portraitists like Dorothea Lang and Walker Evans who captured the lives of simple people. Robert Murray Davis University of Oklahoma
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