The impulse that really got my fine art creations going was 12 years ago, when I realized, I have just missed a photography opportunity that won´t ever come back. Since then, I haven´t left the house without a camera for 12 years. I started shooting one picture a day whether I felt inspired or not, just to remind myself. I shoot them to stop time, to immortalize a moment that will never come back.
For me a lot of these moments that I would like to hold onto forever happen in the intimate setting, when we let go of our insecurities and fears and submit to ecstasy. My obsession with sex is apparent to most of my viewers, but the connection with fleetingness of time, with mortality is what is often left missing. In the words of Nobuoshi Araki, the great Japanese photographer:
„Every time a man succumbs to the temptation to unfold the camera and point it at something, he is driven by the need to seize the object. As the camera shoots, he feels he´s captured the object of his passion; in the end, the only thing he´s left with is a photography.”
Thus each Araki´s photoshoot, as well as mine, is filled with lust and desire to stop time. As if shooting resembled sexual climax – the moment we´ve conquered time. A moment not unlike Death.
But you can´t cheat Death.
You can´t cheat Time.
All you can do is create its print. A memory that serves to prolong the moment lost in time.
If somebody asked me why I shoot photography, I would likely have to say that I can´t help it, that it’s my method of survival. I first discovered photography´s liberating power at college. A girl dumped me; she promised to call, but the phone stood silent. Shattered, I took a picture of a desolate scene. When I developed the film, I noted a change in my psyche: my despair was gone. It got locked into the silver layer, and I was free again. The same trick worked for me ever since.
Photography has carried me throughout my life, even though I had different ideas about my life path. As a teenager, I wanted to study ballet and I also wanted to become a priest. Ballet, in my imagination was embodiment of the perfect human form, which eventually became my subject theme. The priest idea expressed my desire to penetrate the metaphysical, the sacred. Of course, in my adolescent fantasies I also imagined myself listening to confessions of women in darkened booths. Little did I know that in my career as a photographer, both of my wishes would come true.
I still remember the day my future as a photographer was sealed. I was twenty years old, sitting on a train when I realized something curious just happened to my vision. I started to see the world around in photographic frames. I saw perspectives, angles and cutouts everywhere I looked. A photographic memory, it became a part of me.
I pursued career as photography editor and portrait photographer, shooting documentary, celebrities and everything in between during the golden era of magazine press. My star rose quick and during my twenties, I had already seen the world. I remember shooting at the most extravagant party in New York, where I met Naomi Campbell in 1995. I was on the top and I couldn´t imagine living any other way.
But in just a shy 10 years, the old world of media crumbled and never came back.
I was one of those who had hailed the advent of digital photography with enthusiasm. After all, it meant I would never again have to depend on some halfwit who developed my films.
Over the years I started to notice the down side.
The mass editing.
The dilution of craft.
The dominance of digital post-production meant there was no longer any truth in the pictures.
I shifted my perspectives to one of the oldest (1851) photography techniques that produces only a single original, impossible to replicate and retouch. This method, a silver and glass transformation called “ambrotype”, became my obsession. A few years worth of experimentation allowed me to come up with an innovation of this process, unparalleled anywhere else in the art world. I fix a silver layer from behind a plate of translucent glass, creating original silver and glass artifacts in 3D with a luminous metallic effect unseen in common ambrotype. I longed for truth and mystery to get back in photography, and I found it. Visitors of my studio said my portraits look as if they were “ghosts locked in from another time.”
I believe in art that is truthful and precise. If there was something I despise, it would be kitsch and leaving things half-done.
When I shoot digital, I do 90 % of my work in black and white because I believe in old times craft. The strength of my images lies in classical principles of composition, theme and drama. My editing is minimalist, I just crop images most of the time. I believe in art that is truthful and precise. If there was something I despise, it would be kitsch and leaving things half-done.
It is the combination of my philosophy and the choice of subject matter that leaves my viewers stunned or lamenting. There is very little I haven´t photographed: prisons, brothels, births of my children, abandoned cemeteries and a host of celebrities and figures from public life. I have earned the epithet ‘decadent’ on numerous occasions, because I don´t why away from places. Those that lament my choice of subject matter believe the are places where we are supposed to look for beauty and those where not.
I am a strong believer in corporeal beauty. I also believe art should take us a step forward, trespassing our comfort zone if it must.
So I didn´t struggle, when my interest in ballet took me to other, fringe performances of art, such as burlesque, piercing and body modification. There, I explored the dimension of human figure. After this entrée of 10 years, I realized I am ready to tear down facade down to the nude. Throughout my years of shooting press I learnt how to be non-judgemental and how to gain trust. This priceless talent serves me well when I shoot the nude, not as a staged theme, but scenes from real people´s intimate life. It took a midlife crisis, a divorce and loosing it all for me to allow myself to follow the Muse, and I keep paying in installments to this day, when my shows are censored and openings cancelled on last minute. I lost my college teaching job when I made it to the front page news; this time not as a tiny name masthead, but as the celebrity being scandalized. In the words of Charles Bukowski,
“I have found what I love and I will let it kill me.”
years I have been shooting my photographic diary every day
years as a professional photographer
Petr Jedinak had no artists in the family. His ancestors came to Prague as impoverished farmers and his parents became the first generation to get college diplomas. Jedinak´s mother became a prominent nuclear engineer. At 5 years old, she gave him his first camera and told him we was going to be a star.
As a child prodigy, Petr was shooting and developing film in his home studio already at 6 years old. At high school, he took a 3 year evening course in fine art photography. He graduated from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague where he held his first solo show at the college club in 1984, at 21.
Petr creates fine art photography in black and white on two distinct media: digital and glass plates (ambrotype). The most common subjects of his artworks are portrait, the human figure and the nude, while the source of its power lies in emotion. Jedinak developed a particular style of authentic intimate portraiture that borders erotica. Despite his often shocking choice of subjects, his treatment is always classical in nature.
Petr traces the origin of his signature style back to three sources: Josef Sudek, the grandfather of Czechosovak photography known for his mystical minimalism; Petr Joel-Witkin whose old time contemplation reflects on mortality and decay, and, perhaps most ostensibly, Nobuoshi Araki – the Japanese icon of playful obscenity
selected recent shows
2018 | Knupp Gallery Prague
2018 | Dancing House Gallery, Prague
2018 | Prague International Art Fair
2017 | Dvorak Sec Contemporary, Prague
2017 | Analogue, Prague
2016 | Litera, Prague
2016 | Dolmen, Prague
2015 | Prague Photo Festival
2012 | Le Centre Tchèque, Paris
2011 | Prague Quadriennal
During 1990´s and 2000´s his portraits were circulated among as many as 300 000 subscribers of Reflex magazine weekly.
Knupp Gallery Prague
Dvorak Sec Contemporary, Prague
Katerina Dostalova, Olomouc
Museum of Photography, Jindrichuv Hradec
Petr Jedinak was included in “100 Icons of Czech Photography” in 2017
Zdenek Ungrad, Panflex owner, Prague
Ondrej and David Neff, journalists, Prague
Mila Bugtcher, Hell.cz owner, Prague
Petr Holy, Cultural Ambassador to Japan, Tokyo, Japan
Stepan Kafka, publisher, Prague
Rudolf Jelinek, IT Consultant, Prague
Lucie Loos, Fine Art Agent, Shanghai, China
Pavel Scheufler, Photography Historian, Prague
Pawel Prokesz, business owner, Warszava, Poland
Jedinak´s shows gained considerable coverage and controversy and is reported on a regular basis by local and national media (radio, TV, newspapers) in Czech Republic. His photography has been reprinted by Frankfurten Allgemeine Zeitung and New York Times.
Petr held professor positions at 3 different art colleges in Prague since 1990´s. He is a regular speaker at photography conventions and hosts his own studio workshops. He also demonstrates the wet plate collodion process on live shows.