Exhibition - Five years at the castle

Press release + photo - Culture
Photo exhibition at the Coucil of Europe
Strasbourg 19-28 November 1997

Five Years at the Castle
Václav Havel In Photos 1993-97 by Jiri Jiru

Partying with the President in colourful monochrome

105 stran, 72 fotografii
Predmluva : Milos Forman
Design : Borek Sipek
Cena : 490 Czk, Prazsky dum fotografie
Hastalska 1, Praha 1 nebo primo u autora

Pristup pomoci nahledú

Pristup pomoci titulkú

Can a photo exhibition focused on the dullest subject known to journalists - statesmen and woman - be vibrant, exciting and amusing ?

Only if, like Jiri Jiru, you have the good fortune to be official photographer of Europe's most relaxed leader, Czech President Václav Havel. Jiri Jiru invites us to party with his off-duty boss in 50-plus photographs displayed at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg (19-28 November 1997).

But monochrome sepia is hardly a fun tone. Look again ! Each image contains hand-painted touches of colour in an item of clothing or furniture, flowers, a beer mat, a wine glass...Jiri Jiru calls his technique HintTint.

The photographer says it avoids the sens-swamping effect of full-colour. The process derives from old-fashioned photo tinting. "But that method was crude, creating a totally false impression," he says. "I subtly illuminate the photo for the imagination...I influence reality."

However, the reality Jiri Jiru shows is what many would call surreal : the peculiar, hectic world of Václav Havel. This somtime-dramatist appears as protagonist in a continuous, frenzied production, in Prague and around the world.

What we get are infinitely fresher angles and insights than the deadly photo opportunity shots so often seen in the Press. Here, every pictures really does tell a story... Clowning with Tina Turner... Entertaining the Clintons : with Bill among the regulars in a Prague pub, and back at the Castle with Hillary and US Secretary of State Madelaine Albright; samba-ing with beauties in Brazil...There are also some on duty photos, such as a reflective moment on Omaha Beach.

Film director Milos Forman has written a dark introduction to his fellow Czech's photographic collection. It suggests that Jiri Jiru, like the painter Goya, may yet have to pay a price for being so honest in depicting reality. At least the previous regime in Prague, like the Spanish Inquisition, no longer exists.

Five Years at The Castle is the foundation of a wonderfull book entitled 'Vaclav Havel' now available at selected book stores in Prague and through Jiri Jiru himself (cost : 20$). Each unique photograph can be viewed on this site (either by browsing through the pictures or by selecting the title associated with the picture) on Jiri Jiru's CyberGallery.

Exhibition at the Palais de l'Europe (Foyer of the Committee of Ministers),
Strasbourg 19-28 Nov. 1997, 10h-17.30h (closed Saturdays & Sundays).
Free entry.