Large Scale. Documentary prose by Romualdas Požerskis
13.08.2014 - 02.11. 2014
The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography presents a solo exhibition of a famous Lithuanian photographer Romualdas Požerskis. Moscow has not yet hosted such a vast selection of Požerskis oevre. The exhibition Large Scale features over seventy of the artist’s black-and-white prints from seven major series created from 1974 to 2005.
Vilnius №6, 1977
The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography continues to introduce Muscovites to the Lithuanian school of photography which in the 1950s revolutionized the minds of Soviet photographers by bringing in the fresh Baltic breeze of freedom to the oppressively official soviet photography of the time. Pozerskis’ works are deeply and irreversibly rooted in the Lithuanian school and the basis laid by its founding fathers – presently internationally renowned masters of photography – A. Sutkus, A. Macijauskas, R. Rakauskas, etc. These are the humanistic approach, admiration of the native soil and its people, penetrating lyricism, adherence to the artistic reportage genre originating from Magnum agency’s reports.
Following the major impetus of the Lithuanian photography school, an electrical engineering student of the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute, Romualdas Požerskis, reveals his individual world view and ambitious striving for the unique style in his very first series Victories and Defeats (1974-1976). Požerskis turns a seemingly youthful motor racing theme in a serious and thoughtful narrative, penetrating into the secret of man’s individual psychological experience of victories and defeats and the way the collective emotion is formed. The combination of reportage with psychological portrait enables the photographer to draw generalization of a greater depth than one may expect from the sports subject. Požerskis focuses not on the motor racing as a physical action with all its drive, but rather on a human (racer and spectator), immersed in a complex lump of diverse feelings and moods.
Romualdas Požerskis thinks in terms of large scale photo projects, each being an aesthetically and documentally integral narration. Employing literary terminology, Požerskis is said to favour "long narrative", epic stories, and large scale generalization. The choice of subject, its deep coverage, the visual language of his documentary prose is virtually epic. His extensive photo cycles, each being continuously photographed for years, claim to be comprehensive stories on the subject with a human as their permanent focus. “Art is an ability to come nearer to a man and not an external effect or uncontrolled self-expression”, Požerskis says.
In the series Lithuania’s Old Towns (1974-1982) the author sets a highly ambitious goal to show the relations between the town and its people in a genre of street photography that was rather rare in Lithuania and the Soviet Union at the time. With all due aesthetic precision, impressive foreshortening and accentuated geometry his photographs possess, Požerskis concentrates on the subject matter: “A fact of concrete life is more interesting to me than effective abstract composition”. The series Lithuanian Pilgrimages (1974-1994), censored during the Soviet time, addresses in an attentive and sensitive manner the internal – spiritual life of village dwellers. Another aspect of the same subject is observed in the series Memory Gardens (1977–2004).
Romualdas does not hurry to the global visual culture. His photography exists as a kind of counterbalance to the new photographic aesthetics dominated by cool documentary style where human is not the most important object anymore and exists only as an object being photographed. The peculiarity of R. Požerskis’ works is in the special empathy he feels to his heroes: to children populating all his cycles (Children Hospital, 1976–1982); to elderly people in the series The Last Home (1983–1990); to those who are less lucky are unfairly rejected by the society (series Woes and Joys of Little Alphonse, 1992–2005).