Tadeusz Rolke – Black Squares
Henryk Stażewski, Krzywe Koło Gallery, Warsaw, 1963, 55 × 55 cm
“Black Squares” consists of more than twenty, black and white, square photographs that were found within a huge archive of Tadeusz Rolke’s work. Most of them are being displayed to the public for the first time and they represent a lesser known yet very interesting face of one of Poland’s most brilliant photographers. This is not humanistic photography anymore, it is something far more than ideally composed frames by this classic legend of Polish fashion photography. These are dark photos that capture empty metropolitan sceneries and people who either stare straight into the camera or run away from it in fear. There is little storytelling in these pictures, little sociological observation. They can (or even should) be viewed without knowledge of the accompanying stories. They appeal on the formal level through their, often deliberately imperfect, composition. The photos record a certain world while categorically going beyond the borders of photography’s documentary nature. In some ways they are close to enigmatic, even abstract arrangements seen in painting. In this context the title “Black Squares” gains additional meaning. These days, many young photographers try to take similar photos – dirty, sharp, mysterious and at the same time direct, acting on the level of style rather than narration. Their photos, like Rolke’s, are searching for those moments of reality when the surroundings are no longer easy to explain but are instead somewhat unsettled, absurd. After seeing “Black Squares" the young should realize that in the 81 year old Tadeusz Rolke they have a precursor, a reference point they cannot omit.
Tadeusz Rolke - Born in 1929 in Warsaw. One of the greatest authors in the history of Polish photography. He studied art history at the Catholic University of Lublin. In the '60s worked in the weekly magazine "Stolica" and monthly magazine "Polska". In the years 1970-1980 he lived in Germany and photographed for such magazines as "Stern", "Spiegel", "Die Zeit". He easily changed photographic conventions in his work, being equally successful as a press photographer, fashion photographer and a creative photographer. For many years, he was regarded as a leading representative of Polish humanistic photography. In his photographic archive he amassed nearly 50 thousand negatives. Selected solo exhibitons: 1986 For the Living and the Deceased, Tykocin; BWA Gallery, Białystok; Union of Polish Architects in Warsaw (with Jerzy Budziszewski) 1997 I have been photographied sixties and not only..., CCA Ujazdowski Castel, Warsaw; 2001 Neighbour, Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw; Stiklo Karoliukai Gallery ,Vilnus (with Chris Niedenthal); 2002 Before and After 1945 - Poland, Striped House Gallery, TokioBaja Mare, Foksal Gallery’s Foundation, Warsaw; Fischmarket, Triennal of Photography, Hamburg (special guest); Places, Polish Institute, Paris; 2003 We were Here, Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw; National Museum, Bratislava; Festival Est-Ouest, Die (France); 2009 Everything is Photography, CCA Ujazdowski Castel, Warsaw
Curator: Tomasz Plata