As a spiritus movens and a fundamental characteristic of style in the photography of Jozef Sedlák operates a deep eloquence of light, the relevance of the language of light with the paradoxical, if mysterious nature of human existence. Týhe echo of Plato?s philosophy resounds in the substrate of his poetics - a human being does not know anything other than the world of shadows, and to him the very real world of ideas remains inaccessible.
Sedlák?s technique can be described as a total photography - no other medium or art movement is capable of doing what Jozef Sedlák does with photography. His works keep the realism of photography, its so-called reality copying, to the maximum extent, so that in the end he could build a visionary world of unreal situations and relationships. A beatiful and still present polarity of verismo and surrealism.
The fact that there are no clear and definite answers does not suggest passivity and indifference. On the contrary, it seems that constant uncertainty about the faithful appearance of things and people evokes the adventure of endless and tireless asking of questions, of the indestructible desire for truth. It has to be noted that everything is conditional on his belief about the existence of meaning, order that exists and was given and has to be discovered.
Just like with Kamil Varga, the staging in Sedlák?s photography constitutes the creation of an image by the means of specific photographic techniques. Contrary to Vasil Stanko or Tono Stano who take to theatrical and dancing principles of creating, he is not a mere photographer, but a director as well. The audience is confronted with a model that is contradictory to their conventional experience. because Sedlák?s photography offers not a moment, but minutes and hours of light painting action - capturing of lowlight sources such as sparkler or a neon with long exposure with multiple expositions, and the final image is composed of separate points in time and situations so that it concludes in an unreal composition suggesting a real existence.
Jozef Sedlák superimposed the world of ideas with the world of things and came closer to the substance. He is not a dogmatist who would sacrifice the truth of a moment for a faithfulness to the system.
The contemporary aesthetic position of Jozef Sedlák points at the possible way of interconnecting of two up to now and more or less mutually indifferent lines of his photography. On one hand there was an idea of photography as sometimes rather a strict and adress social document about a way of life of select social classes, on the other hand there was a need to materialize in a photographically challenging way his own fantastic visions populated by hybrid creatures.
The centre of his current thought is curious mixture of staged, manipulated and conceptual photography. The author presents his heroes - family members, friends and acquaintances in unlikely, if unreal poses, separating their identity. The characters that were supposed to emanate authority are placed on swings and at the same time as living beings are fused with balustrade columns. The half living, half transformed creatures become memorial hermes? of sort. Through their separated identity they view themselves from distance, from their unstable swinging position: either they respond to themselves, or are indifferent. The visualization of such understanding of the contrast of an authority and a game (specifically the memory of a game) is only possible through the author?s characteristic utilization of the medium of photographic manipulation - gradual local multiple illumination supplemented by light painting and long exposure. The author intentionally leaves in play the accidental remnants of the process, the traces of light, shadows of their own faces projected on the background. Maybe only the moment of advance of time that leads to the arrangement of pictures into diptychs is not so much connected with the meaning of the somnambulistic social document.
Jozef Sedlák is one the few Slovak photographers who is both close to the documentary and fine-art photography. Part of his work is tied to the life of disabled or abandoned people living in asylums, who are thus tenderly drawn closer to a common audience usually with no direct experience with the particular environment. The other part of his work could be described as fine-art. Sedlák leaves the tangible space of the outside world and stages peculiar compositions of figures and symbolic objects, for example skulls, that are individualized and accentuated by visual effects such as blurring, multiplying or light painting. The world created in this way is a dreamy vision of some sort based on language of symbols.
In like manner, the detail, look, and gesture play an important role in the pictures of Jozef Sedlák. A picture taken from a particular visual angle creates an image field with specific characteristics and unique relationship with audience.
Capable of turning the real into the symbolic, the medium of photography can at the same open to the audience familiar with the language of the symbols a new, deeper and genuine world hidden under the grey shell of reality. The meaning of photographic chronicle lies first of all in author?s unraveling the life through visual language. He shows that the real portrait of a human being transcends his physical form.
Photography has been an act of observation. The photographers views life as a specimen moment to be experienced through the lens of a camera. For him it is spectade „out there“ to be documented. And with good luck he might encounter a „decisive moment“ , that superb instant when all the elements of some accidental encounter result in a photograph perfectly balanced in subject and form. The photographer is Thouth oof as the eternal voyeur, trevelling the world capturing the truth of reality on a piece of film.
But for others, the true nature of reality cannot, befound in the mere documentation of bservable facts. They document another reality-that of the invisible, the imagination, dreams, and all those transient emotions that hold us in their spell. The invisible can only be suggested and invented, their source being the subconscious, the mind not the eyes. We are now in the realm of poetry and Jozef Sedlák. He does not find photographs but rather invents then as a writer invents a novel. He uses all the possibilities of the camera to conjure images the way a magician uses hats to produce a rabbit. Figures are duplicated like object in a half of mirrors, and a raw sensuality settles upon the viewer.
In Sedlak’s photography a silent debate is engaged, issues are unresolved. One is more disquieted than comforted. Passions are hinted at, and the evidence of violence disturbs. Sedlak is a young photographer of intriguing potencial. Among these photographs one finds fluws that hint at deeper posisibilities. As he matures, wonderful things are possible.
In his 2014 visual reflection project (Saints) Josef Sedlák presents a contemporary interpretation of memorial portrait. The representative of the middle generation of Slovak contemporary photography responds to various religious incentives. According to Sedlák it is a project of commemoration and reflection of life. The status of sanctity, on which the project touches on, has a strict procedural basis in the Christian liturgy and the canon law. Sedlák accentuates the notion of the symbolic meaning of gloriette which conveys the conclusion of the physical and continuation of the spiritual story of a human being. Similarly to memorial painting, Sedlák responds to the message of the good in the context of death. The pictures of the author's relatives and acquaintances represent a metaphorical idea of sanctity. Not only they are interpreted by the dominant memorial portrait, but by a mosaic of trivial pictures from life, the immediate reminiscence of a close person. The pictures represent a form of conceptual documentary linked with postproduction process.
Through photography, Jozef Sedlák makes a characterization of the portraits of a catholic priest and evangelic pastor in sacral spaces in the context of contemporary age. He presents two worlds that are the spiritual and cultural centre of Hybe. It is not only them who creates these inner everyday worlds. The microcosm of Hybe is comprised of people and items. For the author the form of mosaic or puzzle is the medium in which the idea of the mutual relations between the magical parables can fully resound.