Tomasz Sobecki

Taking photographs of architecture has got a long and eventful history in Poland. This subject was explored by the first dagerotypists (eg. J. Radwański, M. Scholtze) and the first institutional photographers (among others K. Beyer, J. Czechowicz, I. Krieger). Architecture was also the subject of interest of the end of the century photographers. What is more, some of them, such as K. Brandel or J. Mien, attained excellent results. Finally, it happened to be an important subject of pictorialism, especially in the interwar period, it was an extremely interesting matter for plenty of photographers such as F. Groeger, E. Hartwig, T. Wański, A. Wźc³awski and many more.

Architecture was also the subject of interest of the classicist of Polish photography, Jan Bu³hak, whose photographs from the thirties are widely known. The early photographical works of Bu³hak, from the 1910–30, devoted almost solely to architecture, are less known and appreciated. The passion resulted in 158 albums under one title „Poland in the Photography of Jan Bu³hak”. Most of the works are stunning. While he was taking photographs of the Baroque in Vilnius or Classicism in Warsaw, Bu³hak was guided by his own aesthetics, so called „photo-graphics” which was based on two basic elements: the photographical motive and the graphic value. According to Bu³hak, the photographical motive, finding the crucial elements of the image and the synthetic capture of both, as well as the graphic value and skillful use of the chiaroscuro, were the elements decisive for art. Those photographs, surprising with the composition and formal quality, though forgotten today, reveal Bu³hak as a photographer who is extremely sensitive about the form, space and light in art. He appears as a subtle artist, consciously examining the detail and the wholeness of the photographed subject, as well as the relations between them. It is obvious that Bu³hak is able to express both the abstraction and the poetry of photography.

Tomasz Sobecki is one of the few Polish photographers who demonstrate a similar understanding of the subject. The presented exhibition on the Gothic of Toruń, even though it is neither inspired by Bu³hak's photography nor imitating its early phase, constitutes an interesting attempt of a different view of the architecture photography. The photography, I am speaking of, is free of the valid canon and the common convention, reveals the beauty of the late Gothic through the shape (form) and light. Those are the two elements close to the essence of the Gothic, as well as the photography. The exhibition, whereas using both the attractive general plan and a trivial detail, once more proves that it is not the subject that makes the photographer but it is the photographer who confers the meaning and artistic value upon the freely chosen matter.

Ryszard Bobrowski