Henryk Hetflaisz 'Moving Light' Talk - FCHAS

Artist Statement

I believe that ‘Photography has to transcend description. It has to go beyond description to bring insight into the subject, or reveal the subject, not as it looks, but how does it feel?’ My work with dance began with a series of images called The Eighth Veil. In this series, taken at night in my garden, dancer Sarah Cattrall becomes the lightening rod that transmits protean strokes. She is a celestial body, a force of nature. Here the traces of comet, there a ribbon of the cosmos. In a way these simple black and white images are the precursors to Moving Light, which is the result of my continued interest in finding a way to set movement free by using a medium that traditionally ‘captures’ motion – imagine that the dancer’s body is a paint brush and the photographic paper is the canvas. First, I paint the bodies of my dance collaborators. Then, they dance expressively in near darkness, while I take a series of long exposures.

In an age of digital manipulation, it’s worth noting that these images are the result of direct photographic exposure. No digital trickery interferes with the alchemy of photons propelled into movement. Whereas Eadweard Muybridge was concerned with using photography to help us understand movement by breaking it down into component parts, my preoccupation is with celebrating the kinetic energy that emanates from dance. Less about the body, more about the soul.’   

Event photographs 

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Accompanying slides


Henryk Hetflaisz (b. 1978) is a Polish-born photographic artist, working in London. He had several shows in London’s Surface Gallery, The Italian Institute in New York and at Gallery 27 on Cork Street.

The Editor of Modern Painters, Karen Wright, describes his work as ‘experiments in capturing movement using traditional methodology with no digital trickery to create a series of seemingly abstract photographs of great beauty and mystery’.

In the introduction to his 2012 show, Shadow Figures, the author and historian Professor Gail Buckland, former curator of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, noted that ‘Hetflaisz has a deep sense of nature, the magic of the earth and man’s place in it. Each picture is indefinable, timeless, impossible to categorize, symbolic. Each picture challenges the viewer to make up his or her own story about what they are seeing and, like origin myths, where it came from. His work leaves the viewer in reverence of the beauty of the work and his mastery of the photographic process.’

Writing about Hetflaisz’s 2013 London show, Helena Srakocic-Kovac, curator and founder of Focus, remarked ‘Hetflaisz seeks to strip our naked self one level further, beyond nakedness, beyond perceived reality into the realm of the spirit to the protean energy of light that bonds us. Like Robert Frank, one senses Hetflaisz’s desire for us to feel the way we do when we want to read a line of a poem twice.’

In addition to his art photography, Hetflaisz delights in photographing other artists. His images of artisans from Pietrasanta, began with a series of portraits of Sculptors, when Hetflaisz was moved by the vital role of the artisan. His recent work can currently be seen at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London.