15. 2. - 29. 4. 2013 | White Shadow + Quest, Galerie Robert Doisneau, Nancy
19. 4. - 16. 6. 2013 | My Color - Leica Gallery in Prague
2. 2. - 17. 4. 2012 | White Shadow - Solo Show at Pace/MacGill Gallery
2.6.2011 | Video White Shadow
2.6.2011 | Václav Spala Gallery
6.5.2011 | NEGATIVE, POSITIVE, BLACK, WHITE.
In 1991, the art critic and curator Anna Fárová invited me to the studio of Josef Sudek, on the street known as Újezd, in Prague's Malá Strana. A few of Sudek's cameras lay on the shelves, all manufactured in the 19th century to judge from the looks of them. They were already "old" by the time he used them.
The question was whether I wanted any of them. It was Sudek's wish for his cameras to go on working even after his death. And for me to be a part of that: Hurray!
I chose one with a 24 x 30 cm format (until then, I had worked almost exclusively with 6 x 7 and 6 x 6 negatives). I walked away from that visit with two old- and mysterious-looking boxes, which I took straight back to my studio on Lazarská Street. This year marks the 20th anniversary of that wonderful day, and I still remember how long it took to sink in that it had really happened. I had looked for a camera like that many times with no success. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.
The first thing I did was test all the settings, check to make sure it was lightproof and generally in good shape. It was a landscape camera, still outfitted with the original lens. Eventually I replaced it with a newer one that had a shutter, so I could take shorter exposures. 24 x 30 cm film was rare to come by, but I didn't waste any time loading a cassette so I could do a test shoot. The next day, I had paper negatives drying all over my studio.
I started to dream about taking a trip with those strange-looking boxes to a place where everything was in negative, so I could create a positive world on photographic paper, inside my new large-format camera.
My dream became a reality on the day I made up my mind to create that negative world in the confines of my studio. The lens captures that negative world on photographic paper. This process opened up a space new and unfamiliar to me, where nothing could be predicted, a bizarre space in between negative and positive, a white-shadowed world with an atmosphere we often find hard to accept.
15 April 2011
6.5.2011 | NEGATIVE, POSITIVE, BLACK, WHITE.
They grin and grimace, naked or done up, depending. These defiant, dreamy and goggle-eyed inhabitants of a world where shadow is white.
This time Tono Stano, in whose works we are accustomed to experiencing the pulse of feminine beauty, has dragged in his models, most of them girls and ladies, from a costume party, a wild ball, or straight off some spectral women’s Ship of Fools. Or maybe he found them on Petřín, the hill that overlooks Prague. That’s it! On the grass between the trees at some risqué moonlight bash. It’s just a few minutes away from his studio, after all.
Tono made his first white-shadowed photographs in 1991, and has been working on the collection ever since. The studio where he shot most of them is in Smíchov, a neighborhood that has always had a woeful reputation, full of rundown buildings and cracked sidewalks. But full of energy. Looking out the window you see courtyards overgrown with nettles, brush, grass, the whole mess climbing wildly toward the sky, fighting for space, gulping air. And the trams clang and the cars vroom. This calm, ordinary place is the perfect setting for a device that breathes white shadow into its dancing or blankly staring subjects. An old-fashioned wooden camera like the one Josef Sudek used to drag around with him. Yes, all these creatures, only moments ago chasing each other through the trees of Petřín, or who knows where, Tono has chased through his old wooden box like it was an airlock. And in it each one turns black and upside down. And not only that! Now the negative undergoes the true carnival furnace. Eyebrows vanish entirely, an eye captured in negative loses its twinkle, and needs to be painted back in to regain its personality. The simplest things serve to bring the black shadows to life: a scrap of paper from the studio floor, some shaving cream, a robe, or a string bag that the model was carrying bananas in. The demiurge sometimes has to cover the creatures’ navels or ears with wads of paper to keep them from totally disappearing. Yes, it’s tremendously complex. Negative. Positive. And a shadow’s shadow is white. In short: everything that’s black is actually white and vice versa. Those are the rules of this game.
Some of the faces, bodies, and body parts are so young they seem freshly fashioned by nature, others display the bites and scratchmarks that come with a life hard-lived. And perhaps, among all the funny faces and laughs and just-for-kicks of these untamed nymphs and blushing brides, you might find a shard of your own story, a hook that grabs hold and pulls you in. The artist made sure not to spare himself either, taking his turn in a funny cap, staring stiffly off into space, in a pose reminiscent of a Rembrandt self-portrait from later in life – ah, the wisdom of the Master. So what if some of the girls flash their fangs at us, or fix us with a cool, ironic gaze. We can still see that these princesses from the grave and denizens of the afterlife are women wild and wooly. We can sense what radiates from them: sensuousness, energy, and ravenous joy. And tenderness.
JÁCHYM TOPOL, August 2010
May 2 - June 5, 2010 | White Shadows - Solo Show at Galerie Baudelaire in Antwerp
Over several years, Tono Stano was working on a very special series with the original camera of Josef Sudek. The outcome are positive-negative portraits, Tono Stano calls them "White Shadows". The solo show at Galerie Baudelaire will be the first time these photos are shown to the public. Website: www.galeriebaudelaire.be
March 13 - July 26, | Czech Photography of the 20th Century - Museum exhibition in Bonn
Exhibition at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn. This big scale museum exhibition is the first of its kind outside of Czech Republic. It gives a broad overview on Czech photography of the 20th Century and shows photographs by Tono Stano.