Curator's Essay

Digital Photography Through the Eyes of an Analog Photographer

By Veronica Cuomo

With the intensity of a volcanic eruption, the artworks of the Czech photographer Marek Boguszak (b. 1952) emerged into the global market after metamorphosing from landscape photography into abstract photographic objects. Zurich, London, Monaco, and Prague were the first audiences to witness Boguszak’s expansion. The artist advances solidly with an excellent international projection through his promising career collecting awards worldwide and organizing his upcoming exhibitions in New York, Madrid, and Bern, among other capitals.

 

His artistic parkour has evolved through different phases from analog to digital, forging an artist of substantial depth. Boguszak became fascinated in his youth with experimentation in nineteenth and early twentieth-century processes and printing techniques, like cyanotypes and toning. His hand-made emulsions, papers, and prints evolved from the atmospheric imagery of Pictorialism into the ground-breaking aesthetics of straight photography. His early work recalls that moment in history when photography fought for legitimacy, first emulating paintings and then pondering the medium’s inherent properties before conquering the realm of fine arts. For the first time, Boguszak agreed to reveal to the public and critics an unpublished selection of his vintage prints in Zurich and Bern in 2022 as part of an international project.

 

Boguszak’s academic training in mathematics, topology, and sociology contributed to the emergence of a very personal photographic vision. His Ph.D. was followed by a period of successful but demanding entrepreneurship that prevented him from practicing photography. Due to the oppressive rhythm of those years, he escaped the office. He sought proximity and immediacy with nature, capturing the landscape’s beauty with unusual intensity —since then — through a digital lens.

 

Death Valley in the USA, shaped by the conspiracy of erosive forces, is the stage for Boguszak’s most recent series, Dunes (2019–2021). Millennia old, the desert preceded us and will exist long after we are gone. This perpetuity engraved in its basic structure transcends in Boguszak’s photography. He dissolves earthly reality to reveal the dunes’ secret anatomy through abstraction, freezing and preserving the essence of the ever-changing choreographic movements of the sand. Malleable and plastics, their outlines are enriched by color and contrast, reflecting the artist’s feelings. Thanks to the availability of digital image-making and digital editing tools since the nineties, Boguszak upgrades and transforms the picture into a means of expression, reinventing a new visual vocabulary. He comprehends that nature is a living being and carefully peels off the layers of its skin until its nudity enables one to perceive its quintessence. In this state, denuded of all references to the real world, the emotional connection to the image is imminent.

 

Abstraction is probably the most remarkable development from Modernism. Discovered—not invented—around 1912 in Europe, abstraction is, by Charles Bernstein’s account, a metaphor. In the case of Boguszak, abstraction is a process, investing an intrinsic metaphorical value using color, contrast, and hues as representations of his individual emotions. He chooses not to photograph an abstract setting but builds abstraction through intuition. Marek Boguszak takes the first steps toward the dissolution of stringent pictorial conceptions, renouncing the historical documentary function of photography and defying the belief that a good photograph is an unmediated slice of reality.

 

Boguszak’s Dunes bears some conceptual and technical affinities with the series The Last Analog Photograph I–XII (2007–2017) from the Swiss artist Hans Danuser (b. 1953), whose muse is also sand. Danuser explores the photographic image’s material nature, paragoning the photographic layers’ complexity with the desert’s. By different means, both artists remind us that vision, like landscape, is in a perpetual state of change, invoking the fragility of a single moment immortalized through their objectives.

 

The Czech photographer’s most recent creations move toward the pictorial language of geometric abstraction—based on the use of geometric forms placed in a non-illusionistic space—exploring some aspects of the movement, mainly the process of evolving a purely pictorial reality by building through the plasticity of sensual figures adapted to his own artistic vocabulary. He emphasizes the flatness of the space—as the carrier of applied elements—away from the original landscape’s physical reality. A visual universe where lines become shapes enhanced by bright tones without compromising their ductility.

 

Capable of bringing to life the photographic print—from scratch—in the darkroom’s intimacy on one side and exploring the manipulative possibilities of state-of-the-art software encoding the world as a computer file, on the other, Boguszak’s relationship with the photographic medium is consummated. It is precisely in the silent coexistence of the analog and the digital photographer that Boguszak’s art holds all its breathtaking uniqueness, performing sublime results in digital photography through the eyes of an analog photographer.

 

September 9, 2021

Zurich, Switzerland