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František Ortmann

This guy is easy to remember and hard to ignore. He’s the little eccentric man with a beard and a camera. He never misses when there’s something going on around the Bigg Boss clan. But don’t be mistaken about him: Those who have been in front of the lenses of František Ortmann include the Czech pub-rock group Kabát, Karel Gott, or even the world rock star Bruce Springsteen. There’s a saying ‘Never trust anyone over thirty.’ František was born in 1967 but he has gained respect of people involved in photography and music who are a generation younger – or maybe even two. František Ortmann has been awarded several Czech Press Photo prizes. The last one was the 2010 Golden Eye Award in the category titled People We Talk About. He’s had a solo retrospective exhibition of his portraits at the National Gallery’s Modern Art Collection, thus becoming one of the youngest photographers presented in a solo exhibition at the National Gallery. He is author of more than 400 title pages of many magazines. In recent years, he has been mainly focusing on studio photography. He has been asked to create photos for monographs of many celebrities. A very important role in his professional life is played by theatre photography. He has been the exclusive photographer of Monte Cristo and Joan of Arc musicals. At the Prague State Opera, he has photographed productions such as the Polish Jew, Ariane and Blue-Beard, La Traviata, Aida, Don Giovanni, Circus Terra, Elephant Man, Hamlet and the New World ballets, and many more. In 2006, the National Theatre published Ring, a retrospective photographic publication about the Ring of the Nibelung, which included a lot of František’s photographs that won him a significant award from the GIP. He has organised an exhibition called Thank You, Boys (Hoši děkujem) with photos of the ice hockey Nagano winners, whose proceeds of several thousand Czech crowns were donated to Czech paraolympionists. He was also involved in the creation of the recipe book The Secrets of the Best Chefs (Tajemství nejlepších šéfkuchařů) written by the famous gourmet Pavel Maurer. Thanks to Ortmann, we can have a look at the culinary art of 20 most renown chefs in the Czech Republic. In this area, he has closely cooperated with the Bar Life magazine. František also shoots fashion and campaigns for a range of Czech brands. Is this still not enough for you? We hardly think so but there’s one more project we want to mention here: Tattoo Names. František had been playing with the idea for a long time. It started with a seemingly superficial admiration of friends’ tattoos which led to the idea of documenting and searching for the reasons and motives that make people take the irreversible decision to brand their skin. František says that the main impulse was spending time with his friend Lukáš Černý, owner of the Joshua alternative hair studio. Due to a banal injury, František was tied to a wheelchair for several months and Lukáš took care of him. František could not help but notice the disrespect or even disdain in the eyes of the typical ‘proper’ people looking at his tattooed friend. This experience brought him to carry out a project aimed at de-tabooisation of tattoos which are seen as something that is only good for scum and criminals. This attitude of František was one of the reasons for him to become a resident of the NO Gallery (Galerie NE) – a gallery of courageous people who are not afraid of expressing their disapproval with something that others take for granted. These people are no dull ‘yes’ men satisfied with any mainstream opinion, they’re not easy to break, and never choose the easiest path. This description in particular is suitable for František Ortmann: a photographer, artist, creative brain, as well as an ordinary friend.   Kay Buriánek 2016

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