Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Bartosz Pietrzak "Pietrzak Puls" - The Photography Gallery - Feb. 12, 2003 - 4 stars

Photographer Bartosz Pietrzak was exiled from Poland in 1982. As a member of the Democratic Opposition Movement, which started in 1976 and became the future inspiration for the national solidarity movement in Poland, Pietrzak was co-editor and photographer for an underground paper, the Puls (Pulse). "You had to do something. It was hopeless," he said of his journalistic efforts. Martial law was imposed on Dec. 13,1981, sending him to prison, but not for long. "They were visibly interested in getting rid of us," he explained of the government. Pietrzak was given a choice in 1982: stay in jail or emigrate to the United States. Grabbing a few personal belongings, including photos, Pietrzak and his wife left Poland. Half of the 20 photos on exhibit at the Photography Gallery are piecemeal examples of his black and white work from the 1970s. Some of these were rescued by friends and sent to him here. These images have been digitally reshot, cleaned up and reprinted, resurrecting them with the same integrity as their original gelatin silver prints. Others have been executed over the last three years. "For 20 years I didn't do anything until three years ago," Pietrzak said. Digital photography was the enabling factor. Most all of the works adhere to a photomontage convention. Viewing the photo fabrications of environments and objects is like reflecting on, or entering, a daydream. Unmodified portrait images from the 1970s are strikingly candid. Pietrzak's explorative montage method is successfully demonstrated in this deserving and splendid show. Though diverse, the images have a poetic uniformity. Pietrzak has exhibited in Germany, Denmark, Malaysia, India, Great Britain, Brazil and now, fortunately, in his Indiana home. Through Feb. 28, 2003; 317-423-9237. –Mary Lee Pappas

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