Jiří Hanke - Family Pack

2. 3. 2017 – 29. 3. 2017

The Hanke family, including Michael Hanke, fresh from his second prize at the World Press Photo 2017 contest, is showcasing its photographs from 2 to 29 March in Prague’s multi-genre Czech Photo Centre. The Rodinné balení (Family Pack) collection features a representative cross-section of all seven family members involved in photography.

Dates of exhibition

Duration 2.3.2017 - 29.3.2017
Michael Hanke’s presentation 6.3.2017 at 6pm
Commented tour 23.3.2017 at 6pm

The “Stamp of Generations” is the name of Jiří Hanke’s unique, on-going, long term photographic project.

Hanke’s portraits of parents and their children track family similarities and dissimilarities and also their psychosocial bonds and the influence of the family environment. In hundreds of photographs he subjects families, known and unknown, to an inquisitive gaze. The result is an exciting visual record of the mysteries of life, its regularities, coincidences, paradoxes, hopes and disappointments...

This testimony continues with every image in the exhibition and proves the undeniable and simultaneously beautiful fact that every person and their life is a unique original.

However, Jiří Hanke wasn’t fully satisfied with this photographic evidence and, as the exhibition “Family Pack” testifies, he decided to extend it to real life, his own. He became the creator of “Imprints of generation No 2”, which are presented in an exhibition of the seven members of his family - his father, wife, son, daughter, two grandsons and himself. It is an exhibition that proves how a profession, passion and obsession can be carried from generation to generation. How talent can be inherited. And, yet, how each member of the family is unrepeatable and unique.

Apparently, for Jiří Hanke it wasn’t enough to be just one of the most distinctive Czech documentarians. His series “Views from the Window of my Apartment” was admiringly analysed by the big guru of the philosophy of photography Vilém Flusser in the prestigious magazine European Photography, where he described Hanke as a ”photographic acrobat”.

And evidently he wasn’t even satisfied with the fact that for four decades he had been regarded as an important gallerist whose Little Gallery in Kladno was regularly visited by the entire art set of Prague.

He still wanted something more. So he became the inspirational source and the creator of a unique family group, a clan of creatives, who are proud of their roots, which extend from the great grandfather to great grandchildren.

Out of gratitude he organised the first ever exhibition of his father’s work, also Jiří, for what would have been his seventieth birthday.

And what about his wife Jiřina? A poetess and painter, gravitating towards a more aesthetic expression in photography. It was she who influenced their offspring with her creative approach to work and thus balanced Jiří’s purist documentary style. It is no surprise that both influences are so noticeable in the work of their daughter Lucie and grandsons Dominik and Vojtěch, but primarily in the work of their son Michael.

An economics graduate, Michael resisted photography for a long time until he finally gave in. He picked up a camera when he was forty and since then he’s collected one prestigious award after another, on both the domestic and international scenes. He has several talents that work together: He knows how to chose a strong subject matter; seemingly ordinary at first but with an unmissable impact on the viewer. And he knows how to make an image emotionally compelling.

What is so special about topics like the Circus, Seniors at Play, Junior Chess Matches, Air Shows or Horse Racing? Nothing. But Michael has the ability to feel their basic emotions, to capture them and turn them into a symphonic poem about people. In February 2017 he deservedly added a World Press Photo award to his five already existing Czech Press Photo awards and another two international prizes. His was the only prize that the World Press Photo awarded to a Czech photographer this year among stiff competition from more than three hundred thousand photographs taken by professional photographers from around the world.

His father Jiří and mother Jiřina can be pleased. Not only because the family tradition continues and harvests success, partly through their merit, but mainly because we will still hear a lot about Michael, and the others, in the future.

Daniela Mrázková

Photo credits: Jiří Hanke senior (1911 - 1980), Jiří Hanke (1944), Jiřina Hankeová (1948), Michael Hanke (1972), Lucie Halamíková (1976), Dominik Hanke (1997), Vojtěch Halamík (2004).