Rebellious Eroticism In the Imagery of Czech Photographer Vlastimil Kula
In a conversation with Dian Hanson (Taschen) the Czech photographer Vlastimil Kula (1950) describes his childhood as a blue print of Tom Sawyer's, on the outskirts of Pilsen. Although, his Mississippi, the Uhlava, was a bit smaller.
For secondary school, he lived in Cheb. It was the '60s: Beatlemania, Radio Luxembourg, new wave cinema and the hippie movement. No matter about the Iron Curtain, it was a Flower Party across Europe. Because of this, Ralph Gibson was my inspiration. Nowadays he needs British humor and he heals himself with Martin Parr (Fig.1).
Fig.1. New Brighton in 1983-85 from 'The Last Resort' by Martin Parr (Source: Davenant on Twitter.com)
He started doing erotic photography in the mid '90s. He had just finished some fashion shooting with his wife and while undressing she did something Kula describes as very artful/crafty/ refined. He grasped the camera and it felt as the immense jungle power was already lifting them, and started playing with them. It was then for him that the earth moved.
His wife is still his muse, along with other women able and willing to step into his mind and share their minds with him. His models need to be warm, optimistic, spontaneous, able to trust, and have a curiosity about themselves. Women inspire and arouse him again and again.
Hypocrisy has been his biggest obstacle. He explains, 'If you haven't read Orwell you will hardly understand. There was communism in this country. I was once officially instructed that using too much black in my work spread pessimism across society, so I did advertising, and felt as if I were driving a Cadillac across Red Square. Only after political change could I do my own style and meet Walter Keller and Benedict Taschen. If I can be remembered for only one thing, let it be as one who burnt himself on a protest against hypocrisy.'
Anything But Pornographic
Vlastimil Kula's imagery is inscrutable and boldly sexy. It is his counter-reaction to what he calls the "boredom of pornography" and the impersonal portrayal of sex. His shadowy monochromes present a wide ranging palate of simply observing the human sexual animal at rest and at play offering the viewer a survey of uninhibited photographs that are anything but pornographic: these pictures may be on the edge but they are always illuminating.
In the exclusive Premium version of the article you can find 31 additional images of Kula's bold eroticism.
Click HERE for the elegant erotic photography of Will Santillo
Sources: twitter.com, The New Erotic Photography by Dian Hanson, shop.vlastimilkula.cz, vlastimilkula.com