jakub sobotka




First solo exhibition cycles: Still Life, Landscape Unexplored, Landart and more

SKY Club, Ostrava, 2000

Sobotka comes out of landscapes, he has a history of experimenting with land-art leaving its mark on some of his exhibits. However, his contemporary landscape is more of a still life created both in and outdoors. The adventure of the undiscovered takes place on a wall, a piece of rock or a table surface. Things whose image does not go through a lens but whose abstract shadow projects itself into the image like a ghost – this is how Sobotka achieves the tension between a dream and reality. It is apparent that he also engages in graphic design, his photographs are impressive simple graphic snapshots. The set feels whole, but with each individual take capable of living on its own.

Eduar Stuchlík, photographer and journalist 

Kostka gallery, Vsetín, 1999

Landscape Undiscovered lies halfway between a real landscape and the lands of human soul, or, if you prefer, the lands of human fantasy. In the first phase we deal with interventions in landscapes: a wet palm or foot printed onto stones, rays of light sketching abstract patterns into a twilit scenery... But the author gradually leaves this approach (direct interventions) behind. The landscape still remains the base ground for his work, but its lyrical stylization does not take place during photographing any more. Instead, the images are stylized later on, in the process of their enlargement – the photographer places various materials onto the paper sheets. Completing his work in the dark room leaves space for a broader scope of experimenting and enables a more thought-out ways of expression. The inset elements, which comprise fruits of nature, harmonically blend into the background structure in one case and stand in contrast with it in another. Through a photographic image, an artificially created blossom or leaf returns to nature once more, creating a world which we both do and do not know – a landscape undiscovered.

 In his latest works, Sobotka reinforces his authorial diction and minimizes the background material – in a landscape he only deals with structure and detail. Instead, he focuses on work in the dark room, employs montage using multiple negatives and photograms. However, this trend does not hint the tendency to only formally speculate with composition. The author builds on the contrast of reality and fantasy. And this is what he strives to narrate – the symbiosis of the real with the imaginary, the commonness and uniqueness, the individual perception of the objective reality. 

Aleš Žanta, graphic designer, photographer

MK gallery, Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, 1996

The base for all photographs from the set is a take of a simple natural motif, such as the structure of soil, a monotonous wheat field, water surface, bark of a tree, etc. Such take, which is usually not overtly segmented as for shape and tone, then functions as a dark background out of which various natural elements stand out with clarity, montaged on top of the original image. At times, they create a formation of a distinctive shape, more often they appear as glittering swarms, often hovering over the background landscape, but sometimes merging with it, for example when forming some sort of strange glimmering of water surface. Frequently, the supplementing elements will create shimmering space in contrast with the firm background, which brings about an uneasy feeling of movement over the static background. The result is multivalent, emotionally intense and of rich content.

The exhibition set possesses a number of values and positives; in the first place, however, we must point out a degree of originality which is rare indeed, especially in landscape photography. The author convinces us not only of his professional competence or feeling for shape, tonal transition, atmosphere and mood, but also of his talent for employing and presenting his strong original creativity.

Miroslav Bílek, photographer, pedagogue at the Institute of Technical Photography 

MK gallery, Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, “Photographs of the Institute of Technical Photography's students”, 1995

The very name “Landscape Undiscovered” suggests that we will not be dealing with traditional landscapes but rather with fantasy or a dream. In the first phase, the author uses real landscapes as the ground for his work. He then goes on to alter the photographs by further interventions. He picks up the thread of a wide variety of artists who went through the same area during certain stages of their development, and also of the poetic character of Czech photography.

The photographs resemble stand-alone poems but could very well be used as illustrations in a book of poetry as well.

Jindřich Štreit, photographer, pedagogue and expositions organizer