Exhibition: Jan Svoboda

Some weeks ago I went up to London to meet some friends for a meal, and took the opportunity to view the Deutsche Börse Prize exhibition at the Photographers Gallery. I also dropped in on the Jan Svoboda show which was running consecutively, but didn’t get round to writing that up as a post on my learning log. Revisiting the snaps and notes I made of Svoboda’s show now, the work suddenly seems to have a renewed relevance in the context of lockdown. His series The Tables, featuring the same oval wooden table in his apartment photographed over and over again from different angles, along with the other studies he made of the domestic space, demonstrate how even the most apparently limited environments can become sources of photographic study and interest.

I found that the cumulative effect of these images displayed together transformed the objects into semi-abstraction, evoking the work of St Ives painters such as William Scott, Terry Frost and Ben Nicholson. They consequently seemed to be more than just photographs of tables and instead became studies of shape, form and mood expressed through geometry, light and shade.

References and resources

Jan Svoboda – Against the Light. Exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, London. From 21 February to 7 June 2020.