Bohdan Holomíček was born in the Ukraine to a family of Volhynia Czechs. They moved to northern Bohemia when he was four years old. When he was still a child he got his first camera Smena. Since then he’s been engaged in photography non-stop. He did not study photography; he worked for most of his life as an electrician, mechanic or maintenance man. He’s been making a living solely as a photographer since the 1990s.
He has been engaged in theatre photography for a long time. Since the 1970s he has been cooperating with the Theatre Na tahu, later with the Theatre Na zábradlí, Činoherní klub (Drama Club), Švandovovo Theatre, Theatre Komedie, Ha Theatre, theatres in Ústí nad Labem, Hradec Králové, Pardubice, and last but not least with the National Theatre in Prague where he documented the backstage, workshop and theatre operations environment.
His work is often spoken about as a photographic journal. The amount of his exposed films (it used to be over a thousand a year) partially reveals the way he works. A subjective history of the recent Czech Republic is profiled in the huge number of captured moments. Subjective in the sense of a personal approach to the world and to people. Holomíček tells a story and people become a part of this never ending story about the past made current by the photograph.
An unmistakable way of installing and describing his photographs became a part of Holomíček’s personal signature. Thanks to his enlargements we know today what is an ordinary photographic paper Document. Similarly to other documentarians (Hochová, Štreit) he did not make cut outs from his pictures and he had the photograph bordered by a black frame (sometimes by a double frame of a car window). In the remaining white space on the paper he then inserted the legends. They contain the date complemented by a short transcript of what someone said back then, often also the place where the photograph was taken. Sometimes it is not clear in the retrospective where and when the captured event took place. These cases show that Holomíček does not make demands on objectivity, but also that photographs are his intermediaries of personal memories even if unspecific: “I know where, I don’t know when”, “approximately 1986”, “near ...”, “maybe 1990”. He has been exhibiting photographs described in such a way and not blown up in rows beside and above one another. He does not present individual pictures but he creates sets of pictures that function together as a whole. It is as if the meaning of the photographed was created by the connection of other captured moments. The mosaic of photographs makes it possible to work with what is found in the space in between. This way of installing makes it possible for the photographs to develop a life of their own.
Holomíček likes to put his photographs back into circulation – he gives them to people who are captured on them. Or he creates and steers a story by the way he organizes the photos in an author’s book. It appears that his main goal is to build networks of relationships (between individual pictures, as well as between people) with the help of his photos. His favourite saying that “it is the journey, not the destination that is important” falls into place here. Holomíček took photographs of an uncountable number of various people – from those absolutely ordinary to the icons of the dissent (he met Václav and Olga Havel in the 1970s and became the documentarian of social and cultural events at Hrádeček and other places). He continues to return to one motive his whole life, however, and it is exactly that ordinary journey, leading from a road. That one specific journey that keeps on drawing him to this day, captured on a great number of shots in various periods, reflects his thinking. Sometimes we can see the photographer’s hand in the shot, reminding us of his presence, as if he would like to touch that moment when the present changes to the past.
In his endless series’ of self-portraits, Holomíček creates the most subjective document about the recent past and present. Although he says that he does not follow any specific topics, he pursues his topics even after the time when he transferred to digital technology in 2003. Searching for authorship and the journey connects the black and white analogue past with the digital present. He is gradually digitalizing his extensive archive and recently he has been presenting his photographs in the form of projections.
Birgus, Vladimír – Vojtěchovský, Miroslav: Česká fotografie 90. let, Praha 1998
Dufek, Antonín: Bohdan Holomíček: fotografie, katalog výstavy v Domě umění města Brna, Brno 1983
Dufek, Antonín: Bohdan Holomíček, Praha 2000
Dufek, Antonín: Černobílá fotografie, Praha 1987
Dufek, Antonín: 27 Contemporary Czechoslovak Photographers, katalog výstavy ve Photographers´ Gallery London, Londýn 1985
Dufek, Antonín: Aktuální fotografie II, Okamžik, katalog výstavy v Moravské galerii, Brno; Galerie 4, Cheb; Alšově jihočeské galerii, Bechyně 1987
Fárová, Anna: Bohdan Holomíček: Fotografie, katalog výstavy v Galerii U bílého jednorožce, Klatovy 1995
Fárová, Anna – Dubský, Ivan: Bohdan Holomíček, Praha 1995
Fárová, Anna: 9, katalog výstavy, Praha 1979
Fárová, Anna: 9+9, katalog výstavy, Plasy 1981
Fárová, Anna: 37 fotografů, katalog výstavy v Junior klubu Na Chmelnici, Praha1989
Fárová, Anna: Ursprung und Gegenwart tschechoslowakischer Fotografie, zvl. číslo časopisu Album, Frankfurt am Main 1986
Mrázková Daniela – Remeš, Vladimír: Cesty československé fotografie, Praha 1989
Šolc, Ladislav: Zápisník Bohdana Holomíčka, katalog výstavy v Galerii 4, Cheb 1987
Vitvar, Jan H.: Národní divadlo, sezona 2002/03, Praha 2004
Vorobjov, Vladimír: Zo súčasnej českej fotografie. Bohdan Holomíček – Viktor Kolář, katalog výstavy v komorné Galérii Mestského domu kultúry a osvety v Bratislavě, Bratislava 1983
Zikmund, Jiří (ed.): Bohdan Holomíček, katalog výstavy v Muzeu východních Čech, Hradec Králové 1997
Vybrané články a recenze v časopisech a novinách:
Dvořák, Karel: Fotografie jako dobrodružství života, in: Československá fotografie 25, 1974, č. 6, s. 252
Dvořák, Karel: Mladá fotografie. Bohdan Holomíček, in: Československá fotografie 29, 1978, č. 7, s. 324
Dufek, Antonín: Chvíle Bohdana Holomíčka, in: Revue fotografie 24, 1985, č. 3, s. 41-46
Fárová, Anna: Bohdan Holomíček, in: Ateliér 4, 1991, č. 14, s. 6
Chuchma, Josef: Ručím za to, že to bylo. Fotografický deník Bohdana Holomíčka v nakladatelství Tirst, in: Respekt 6, 1995, č. 44, s. 18
Kuneš, Aleš: A přijde den, kdy všichni poznají mne, in: Ateliér. Roč. 17, č. 5 (2004), s. 7
Moucha, Josef: Bohdan Holomíček (portfolio), in: Fotograf 4, 2004, s. 50-61
Moucha, Josef: Fototorst (reviews), in: Fotograf 1, 2002, s. 106-107
Moucha, Josef: Kapesní zrcadélko osudu, in: Labyrint Revue 7-8, 2000, s. 67
Moucha, Josef: Uchopit neznámou věc : (s Bohdanem Holomíčkem hovoří Josef Moucha), in: Revolver Revue, č. 4 (2004), s. 115-134
Silverio, Robert: Holomíčkův deník, in: Lidové noviny, 21. 9. 1995, s. 12
Zemina, Jaromír: Bohdan Holomíček – Muž, který rád dělá lidem radost, in: Revue fotografie 37, 1993, č. 4, s. 10-15