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Photo - Jano Polák

23.02 - 19.05.2024
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Ján Polák, a native of Košice, undoubtedly contributed with his work to the mosaic that forms a picture that speaks volumes about Slovak photography. He presented his works at many exhibitions at home and abroad. He was a member of the Slovak Art Union, the Association of Slovak Professional Photographers and the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists. He also passed on his practical experience as a judge of various photography competitions. The main content of his professional activity was advertising photography, but he also collaborated with the Slovak Technical Museum on the creation of three exhibitions. He is the author of visual parts of several publications.

He proved his versatility during the construction of the Aviation Museum in Košice, his precise photographs are the focus of the Geodesy and Cartography exhibition, as well as the narrative publication Geodetic Technique in the STM collection. As part of the exhibition of the JM Petzvala Museum in Spišská Bela, he contributed with his aesthetic sense to the rendering of the topic – dearest and closest to him – the history of photography.

JÁN POLÁK (1953 – 2020)

He liked to record the events around him already as a fifteen-year-old boy. His first photos were taken during the events of August 1968. In addition to studying applied graphics at SUPŠ in Košice, photography accompanied him only as a hobby, but even then the decision to devote himself to it more seriously matured. After graduation, he first worked as a graphic artist at TJ Lokomotíva and later, between 1975 and 1978, as a photographer at the Slovak Technical Museum in Košice. He documented crafts (mainly blacksmithing) and monuments. In 1980, Pavel Adamuv's publication Slnečné hodiny na Slovakia was published, in which he was the author of almost half of the photographs. In the years 1978 - 1982 he studied at the AMU - FAMU in Prague, department of photography with professor Ján Šmok. The curriculum of this department includes assignments from all areas of photography that must be rendered with a high degree of creativity as well as craftsmanship. The fact that he was a successful student is evidenced by his 1st place in the student competition for the founding of FAMU.

After returning to Košice, he worked as a freelance photographer and after 1990 also as a self-employed person in his studio. During this period, he mainly devoted himself to advertising photography, in which he also used his knowledge in the field of graphics and was thus able to provide clients with complex solutions to their requirements. "He did not perceive advertising photography only as a means that fulfills an informative and promotional function, but tried to develop the aesthetic sense of the customer, for which he received criticism from one client that his work was too artistic... in this respect he was certainly ahead of his time," remarked his wife.

During his professional career, a revolutionary upheaval took place in the field of photography - the advent of digital technologies. Despite the fact that he had already taken advantage of computer graphics since the mid-nineties, he faithfully scanned his slides to experiment with them in Photoshop. Several interesting abstract paintings were created in that period. However, he succumbed to the advantages of digital photography much later than most of his colleagues.

His wife Táňa said about him: "The play of light and shadow never ceased to fascinate him. This vision and graphic feeling permeates his entire free work. Documentary, reportage, theatrical, illustration, landscape photography was in his sights, but he preferred to portray the urban scenery of his native Košice. In addition to always taking care to capture the right light, angle of view and purity of shapes, his photos of the old city also contain the poetry of everyday life."

Location : Slovak Technical Museum, Hlavná 88, Košice