Evocative black and white pics of Karkonosze Mountains explore regions rich history with photography

Captured through the lenses of 80 Polish and Czech photographers, the collection entitled ‘Karkonosze. Photography 1945-2021’ was the culmination of two years of research and collaboration with local and national institutions in the Jelenia Góra region. Jiri Havel Kosówka nad złotym wierchem 1958

An evocative collection of black and white photographs of the Karkonosze Mountains has gone on display as part of an exploration of the region’s rich history of traditional photography.

Captured through the lenses of 80 Polish and Czech photographers, the exhibition entitled ‘Karkonosze. Photography 1945-2021’ was the culmination of two years of research and collaboration with local and national institutions in the Jelenia Góra region, Wrocław and Czechia.

The collection, which is also available as a 300-page photo book, explores the different methods and approaches used by some of the biggest names in Polish photography capturing the Karkonosze on black and white film.Waldemar Grzelak The Nun

The collection, which is also available as a 300-page photo book, explores the different methods and approaches used by some of the biggest names in Polish photography capturing the Karkonosze on black and white film.

Joanna Mielech, curator of the exhibition at the BWA Gallery in Jelenia Góra told TFN: “Black and white photography is very important to Jelenia Góra, where artists and photographers kept developing and cultivating this traditional form even after the advent of more modern forms and the popularity of colour photography.

Inspirations with 19th century photographic techniques also led to the development of contact photography in which the photograph is copied by contact in a 1:1 scale from a large-scale negative, a type of photography still being used today.Ewa Andrzejewska Karkonosze w 1990 ze zbiorów Przemysława Winczewskiego

“The idea came to us from looking through the vast archive of black and white photos we have and the belief that we need to do something to keep this cultural heritage alive…the traditional photo movement here is one which is unique on a national scale”.

Amongst the first to popularise black and white photography of the Karkonosze Mountains were Jan Bułhak, Stefan Arczyński and Jan Korpal from the Polish side of the mountain range and Zdenko Feyfar from the Czech side.

Joanna Mielech, curator of the exhibition at the BWA Gallery in Jelenia Góra told TFN: “Black and white photography is very important to Jelenia Góra, where artists and photographers kept developing and cultivating this traditional form even after the advent of more modern forms and the popularity of colour photography.Waclaw Narkiewicz  Slalom w zadymce ze zbiorów BWA w Jeleniej Górze

In 1961, the Association of Amateur Photographers, which later became the Jelenia Góra Photographic Society was formed, whose members often keenly took the Karkonosze as their subject.

In the 1970s and 80s some of the biggest names in modern Polish photography began to travel to the Karkonosze and a new programme in the development of the medium was born, so called ‘elementary photography’, which was completely innovative in Poland at the time.

jbc.jelenia-gora.pl

Among those using the technique to capture the mountains were  Wojciech Zawadzki and Ewa Andrzejewska, two of the key and most influential figures associated with the propagation of traditional black and white photography in Jelenia Góra in the last few decades.jbc.jelenia-gora.pl

Inspirations with 19th century photographic techniques also led to the development of contact photography in which the photograph is copied by contact in a 1:1 scale from a large-scale negative, a type of photography still being used today.

Among those using the technique to capture the mountains were  Wojciech Zawadzki and Ewa Andrzejewska, two of the key and most influential figures associated with the propagation of traditional black and white photography in Jelenia Góra in the last few decades.

In the 1970s and 80s some of the biggest names in modern Polish photography began to travel to the Karkonosze and a new programme in the development of the medium was born, so called ‘elementary photography’, which was completely innovative in Poland at the time.Tomasz Mielech Karkonosze 1998  I Nagroda X Biennale Fotografii Górskiej

Mielech told TFN: “Zawadzki’s grandmother brought him photography magazines from abroad during the Communist period, when such magazines were not available in Poland.

“As a result, Zawadzki had an insight into trends in global trends in photography and shared some of these and opened everyone’s eyes to a more contemplative style of photography and to a deeper realisation of how to understand the world through photography.

‘Karkonosze. Photography 1945-2021’ will be on display at BWA Gallery in Jelenia Góra until the end of February 2022.Press materials

“The death of Zawadzki and Andrzejewska in 2017 was another motivating factor behind the book and exhibition, because we wanted to help keep their legacy alive, although their techniques are still being strongly cultivated.”

Alongside the BWA Gallery's archives and institutions and collections in Jelenia Góra, photographs in the exhibition are also taken from the National Museum in Wroclaw and Karkonosze National Park Museums in Vrchlabí  and Jilemnice.

‘Karkonosze. Photography 1945-2021’ will be on display at BWA Gallery in Jelenia Góra until the end of February 2022, whilst the photobook can be viewed and downloaded HERE.