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Press Club Polska
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Projekt współfinansowany przez Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego w ramach programu ‘Edukacja kulturalna’

Tadeusz Rolke


Tadeusz Rolke took his first pictures as a fifteen year old boy in Josefow, in 1944. Intuitively, he had documented the destruction that was caused by war. He took up photography professionally after a decade. Since 1955 he has been working mainly with press photography, he published in: „Świat młodych”, „Skarpa”, „Stolica”, and finally, in the most important magazines in the country: „Polska”, „Świat”, „Ty i Ja” oraz „Przekrój”.

He was interested in an everyday life, generic scenes, street reportage. He did not photograph events nor formal meetings of a political nature. In the beginning, he devoted a lot of attention to the architecture including the country’s reconstruction.

As a photojournalist, primarily associated with Warsaw, he was interested, above all, with its inhabitants. He was able to pick picturesque scenes and interesting urban fragments in his photos. He experimented with the technique to perform nightly and „live” photos of the city, usually with visible lanterns, neon and passers – by. The main theme of Rolke’s creativity is a „photography of the moment” as he determines it, in reference to the theory of his fascination with photographs taken by Henri Carier-Bresson. Individual images are often filled with humor.

He devoted many years of his life to photograph fashion, thanks to the orders that came from the company „Moda Polska”, as well as occasionally for the press. He performed his photo sessions intuitively inspired by the photographs he has seen in foreign journals. He created his own and recognizable style in photography fashion – male and female models posing in the natural environment – in the park, forest, estates or stairwells.

His archive consists mainly of black and white photography, performed primarily with medium format cameras. In time, he also begun his experiments with color.

After the war, Rolke studied the history of art. Hence, certainly it was the reason of his interest in contemporary art, friendships with artists, and as a result, a set of portraits of people associated with culture and art – artists, museum curators, theorists, etc. He was involved in the environment of Foksal Gallery, for which he performed documentation of the artistic events. He creates his collection of human portraits continuously since the beginning of his professional photographic career, he developed intensively in the 1970’s and 1980’s when he was working for the magazines „Stern” and „Arte”.

In the years 1970-1980 he was in exile in Germany, where he has also worked as a photographer. From that time, there comes photojournalistic reportage „Fischmarkt”. The author himself, appreciates it very highly and considers it one of the most important of his reporters’ cycles. It is a large material concerning everyday life events that take place at the fish market in Hamburg, where the bazaar is becoming just an excuse for a story about people and their behaviors. The cycle was performed during the period of one year, photographing with the use of 135 film camera.

After his return to Poland, for years, he has been photographing the alternative music scene. Next, he tied up with „Gazeta Wyborcza”. Agora, the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza bought the artist’s archive. In recent years, he got interested in documentary photography of the historic and social dimension. From this period came the series of „Tu byliśmy” (Chasydzi), „Sąsiadka” (with Chris Niedenthal).

Rolke is the author of many photographic publications, in the end he also became a co-founder of the Polish – German publishing house edition.fotoTAPETA. He has participated in a several dozen group exhibitions and had a similar amount of the individual exposures. He is constantly present in the circulation of the galleries, in recent years he reveals more and more less well – known photos from his archives, finding new contexts for them and collecting them by subject. Examples include the exhibitions of the year 2013 – „Rolke Studio”, MOCAK, Cracow 2013 „Pohib” Observations Gallery, Warsaw 2013, „Jutro będzie lepiej”, Le Guern Gallery, Warsaw 2013.