Jiří Šigut, that “enfant terrible” of Czech photography, has spent more than thirty years intensively exploring the possibilities of the medium, transcending its boundaries, redefining it, and placing it within the broader context of visual art in his own unique manner. This approach has made him one of just a few Czech artists (including Josef Sudek, František Drtikol, Josef Funke, Jindřich Štyrský, Emila Medková, Jan Svoboda, and Josef Koudelka) to have changed the way we perceive the artistic possibilities of photography.
In his early works, Šigut consciously did not influence what was captured by his time exposures and so recorded ordinary activities (travels by bus, train, or elevator; going for a walk or going shopping…). In the 1990s, he completely abandoned the traditional relationship of negative–positive and recorded his imaged directly on the photosensitive emulsion of the photographic paper, with the source of light and energy being nature itself (daylight, stars, the moon, fire, fireflies…). Whenever he placed his photographic papers in the outdoors (for a period of days, weeks, or even months), he combined this act with various rituals as part of highly personal and intimate nighttime performances. He even became the camera himself by applying a photosensitive emulsion onto his clothing to create entirely unique 4D photograms. Nor did he shy away from the new challenges presented by the advent of digital photography, and so he is currently working to find a solid foundation for his most recent experimentations, which involve breaking down the image into its elementary units.
Through his uncommon and uncompromising inventiveness in exploring the very essence of things, Jiří Šigut has shown us that breaking free from ingrained ways of perceiving the image can be a powerful experience that enables us to concentrate on the inner quality of the world all around us.