Boogie Woogie Photography & PhotogStory are pleased to present “Darkness & Light”, a solo exhibition by Bogdan Konopka at the Loft in Wong Chuk Hang from 4 February to 4 March 2023.
Light is a driving force for photography, but it might also be destructive. For Polish-born photographer Bogdan Konopka, the great charm of photography comes from darkness and shadow. There is one more shadow that co-creates photography: the shadow of the author and of its time. The photographer directs images from darkness into light.
Bogdan is a master of black-and-white photography and Chiaroscuro. At first glance, it is easy to be attracted by the bright light source in his images. When the viewers get accustomed to the darkness, they will discover a world of greys and tiny details hidden in the shadow. Most of his images are contact prints, created with the same size negative, and audiences must appreciate them closely to understand the details in the small prints.
Bogdan is not only famous for his technique but also for the perception after traveling worldwide to confront different cultures. He was born in Poland, lived in Paris, and traveled all over Europe and China to record the different cities’ appearances through his lens. His photographs present a unique and recognizable style in natural landscapes or interior spaces.
The exhibition, Darkness & Light, demonstrates 26 of his black-and-white Hand-printed artworks, including multiple series from the photographer. Living in Poland for decades, Bogdan’s passion for photography dated from his youth, and he captured street scenes in Polish cities such as Wrocław and Kraków. After moving to France, he photographed shop entrances in Paris and interior spaces in libraries, theaters, and museums when traveling to Pas-de-Calais, Angers, Nice, and several other cities. In the Théâtre de l’Odéon image, the long exposure creates a bright white screen reminiscent of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Theaters series. Although they have similarities, Bogdan is not exploring the passage of time but a dramatic light source in the dark.
Instead of capturing fleeting moments, Bogdan’s camera allows fragments of reality to emerge against dark backgrounds. He was devoid of people deliberately, as if he was embarked on a solitary voyage. He takes photos with long-time exposure to efface the presence of people. A large-format camera enables him to make stunning contact prints, and the black-and-white images bring a sense of tranquility and mystery.
For Bogdan, the darkroom is where magic is born. He makes the silver gelatin contact prints by himself, scratches on negatives to create unique patterns, and paints with a brush dipped in developer on expired papers. This creative approach was inspired by the works of French poet and painter Henri Michaux. In his darkroom, he isolates himself from the hustle and bustle, and his experiments’ inseparable companion and inspiration is music. Bogdan named this series of works “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” which is reminiscent of Mozart’s Serenade.
A shadow is an absence of light. Bogdan’s work is not only about darkness and light. His portraits are also mysterious. “Tyłem- Dos au Mur” (Backwards, Against the Wall) combines nine images photographed with a simple and consistent white background. He captures the backs of different people, and the photo grid collage strengthens the mystery and imagination.
Bogdan Konopka (1953 – 2019) is a Polish photographer who began taking photographs in the mid-1970s. Living in Breslau (Wrocław), a German city until 1945, he made part of an underground group of artists struggling against the communist party and was imprisoned for months. He moved to France in 1989 and was awarded the Grand Prix de la Ville de Vevey in the European Photo Competition in 1998. Bogdan Konopka preferred to work primarily on large-format cameras. His artworks were exhibited worldwide, including Centre Pompidou. The images displayed in this exhibition are a private collection from Mme Konopka.
Darkness & Light
A Solo Exhibition by Bogdan Konopka
Date: 4 Feb – 4 March 2023
Time: 2-7pm (Wednesday – Saturday)
Address: The Loft, 8/F, E. Wah Factory Building,
56-60 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang.
About Boogie Woogie Photography
Boogie Woogie Photography is a company founded in Hong Kong in 2016 to promote photography in Asia. The mission is to act as a platform for galleries, collectors, companies, and photographers aiming to develop photography projects in Hong Kong and Asia.
PhotogStory is an online Photography platform and Guest Curator based in Hong Kong. We focus on stories of local and international photographers, and stories behind classic photos.