“I’m not a painter. Nor a sculptor. Nor a writer. I’m Tarzan in retirement.”
“I’m such a wild person not even John of Nepomuk or God has any influence over me. No one.”
“I don’t eat animals, because the animal is like me.”
“I’m a Samurai and my only aim is to annihilate my opponent.”
People say that Miroslav Tichý has never touched a woman. The truth of the matter is that he has never bothered about an audience, an exhibition, a publication. To him none of that seemed worth striving for. The world was anyway a mere appearance, an illusion. And everybody recognizes only what they want to, he repeatedly maintains. Tichý lives in his own world, one that is not deter- mined by conventional aims.
Having trained at the Prague Academy of Art, in the late 1940s Tichy initially tried his luck as a painter and drawer. Yet the totalitarian conditions and his own personal experiences alienated him more and more from the official artistic and cultural scene. Tichý withdrew completely before one day beginning to take photographs. Day in day out using simple cameras he had for the most part assembled himself, he pursued the female part of his Czech home town. For thirty years. Time and again Tichý would stand by the fence of the swimming pool watching the girls. Gradually beginning to neglect his outward appearance he grew a beard, his hair became long and matted, his clothes nothing more than rags. Most children were afraid of him. They thought his cameras were just dummies, and that in reality he wasn’t taking any photos at all. His apartment resembled that of a chaotic handyman. It had no heating. In winter it was damp and cold. The pictures, drawings, and photos were just lying around, going moldy. Yet none of this was of any importance to Tichý because it was the idea of something that seemed to interest him more than actual circumstances. Tichý, who was born on November 20, 1926 in a small village in Moravia, has now become more accessible, no longer driving off curious visitors with an axe. He gave up photography in the late 1990s. The ball was set rolling when a few years ago a friend from his youth convinced him to stage his very first exhibition. Since then people have shown an interest in the old »Samurai«.
The out-of-focus, unsteady, crumpled, under or over-exposed photos, which are full of finger prints, developers’ streaks and liquid, have something of the products of a clumsy dilettante about them. And the obsessive, erotic character of his entire oeuvre and his peculiar way of life initially put
Tichý in the realm of artistic outsider. Yet the work cannot be categorized, it is conceptual, atmospheric, formal and in terms of content quite unique. The picturesque photographs are full of humor and irony, malice and deeper meaning, drastic elements and clarity. There is nothing comparable in the history of photography.
Last year the MMK succeeded in acquiring a convolute of 80 works by Miroslav Tichý for its large photographic collection. This represents the most extensive group of works by the Czech photographer in a public collection. Furthermore the exhibition at the MMK is the first solo exhibition in Germany of this extraordinary artist.