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Kula Paperback – 25 Jun 2004
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"I find very interesting this subject of inner psychical torture caused by the struggle between culturally indoctrinated and established taboos and sexual behavior driven by the almighty nature's will, which we are supposed to hide, oppress and be ashamed of." ""I find very interesting this subject of inner psychical torture caused by the struggle between culturally indoctrinated and established taboos and sexual behavior driven by the almighty nature's will, which we are supposed to hide, oppress and be ashamed of.""
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Using both male and female subjects in about every variation or combination available, Kula even photographs himself photographing subjects, giving the viewer the option that there really is no reason not to see what we are seeing. The people we observe enjoying nearly every bodily function do not suggest morality/immorality so much as freedom.
Odd how in painting these images are usually abstracted or pushed into the periphery, becoming part of the fabric that the artist may choose to drape the central concept of a work. Here Kula makes these variations on a sensual theme the focus and as such he may cause discomfort in some viewers, but with exposure to repeated imagery the message is clear: critique is in the mind and eye of the observer. Kula is more interested in unlocking those tiny doors of censorship that prevent our minds from experiencing the full spectrum of sexual awareness. Grady Harp, February 2005
Taschen has blessed us again with another excellent book of raw sexual energy and introduced us to a new era in erotica, thanks to photographer, Vlastimil Kula. Taschen books have repeatedly launched and promoted new artists that are not content to settle for the way we are supposed to live our lives, (and express ourselves sexually,) and the name Vlastimil Kula is one we can now affectionately place next to the likes of other Taschen revolutionaries such as Richard Kern, Eric Kroll, Natacha Merritt, Chas Ray Krider, Roy Stuart and so many others.
Kula's book, 280 glorious pages of explosive black and white sexual heat, is an ethereal exploration into absolute sexual freedom and desire. Not only is this Czech born photographer skilled at taking amazing pictures, he seems poised to wake the world up and liberate us of our inhibitions with his art. Kula's work refuses to accept that anything could be taboo or ugly, (but more importantly, the presence of real life sexual activity can not be cheapened or labeled as pornography, it is art through and through.)
Kula's book is not just a photo journal of nude females, (which I would have been fine with as those familiar with my reviews well know,) but rather a photographic journal of a group of beautiful people exploring their sexuality for themselves, not just for our pleasure.
The first half of the book presents us with many night time exterior locations, models in hose and fish-net stockings kissing, touching, playing, and having sex in the shadows against concrete and steel fences. We see penetration one minute, women kissing the next, smiles and wide eyes all around, while Kula playfully captures it all in the background. Everyone involved seems all too happy to be having sex and exposing themselves to Kula. These people do not seem like hired models, they seem like Kula's friends and lovers, and only too eager to engage him and each other while the camera snaps away. The bliss and comfort in their expressions and smiles have no pretensions, nor do they suggest the action is staged. No, this journey is about free flowing days of intimacy and enjoying the one basic thing all humans have at their access to enjoy, and that is sex, pure and simple. (Flip and re-flip through the pages of frolicking in the leaves and try and tell me these people are not some of the happiest in the world. They do not take their freedom for granted and do not have time to be suppressed or restrained.)
The second half of Kula's book, titled "With Satyr in Bed, and "With Satyr in Bath" is a bedroom and bath, lazy day love making display that reinforces that the main theme of this book is about freedom and happiness in sexuality. Kula seems to have spent a day, (or month,) in a room with several beautiful women, having sex, jumping on the bed, exploring, and taking baths.) There is a deep emotional and psychological truth in these images that suggest that we could all spend a little more time with those we love, sharing the intimacy that is a gift to us, rather than toiling away at jobs that are killing us, with people who don't care about us. Kula rejects the industrialized modern world with his beautifully stark images and says, no thanks, I'd rather make love.
This book differs from Natacha Merritt's Digital Diaries, (of which I am a huge fan and waiting for another volume,) in that Kula seems to be taking pictures for himself more than for an audience and a purpose. I wouldn't be surprised if he couldn't care less if we see these images, but we are so lucky he has shared them with us and that Taschen Books have once again recognized a bold visionary, whose work, no matter how shocking or explicit, has a great deal to say about the primal instincts we take for granted and try to deny ourselves out of shame or fear. Kula doesn't appear to caged by anyone's rules of what art should be, and hopefully we can look forward to many more wonderful books from his in the future.
Taschen Books relentlessly publishes some of the most compelling adult art books and erotica, and does so with a fervent commitment to quality and ground-breaking design and shockingly unique artistic aesthetic. We owe this brave company a great deal more than we might understand, and yet all they ask of us is to buy the books, and enjoy them. In this era of conservative and puritanical witch hunting, we need to do everything we can to support the kind of art the Kula's of the world want to share with us. We can't afford not to.
Vlastimil Kula studied photography at the Prague Academy of Arts and followed up with that most capitalistic of professions: advertising. With the collapse of communism he turned his attention towards challenging the new Czech society with his art photography. His work in general and this book in particular, strongly attests to both his success in that endeavor as well as his artistic genius. This work is a visionary manifesto that should not be missed!