For the DOTS series, Zahornacky created circular fabric objects which were positioned and photographed with a drone – creating abstract visuals out of day-to-day physicality
Based in Slovakia, the award-winning visual artist works with photography to create works that occupy a zone between reality and fiction. In contrast with his 2019 CURVES series exploring the distortion of human portrait, there is a noticeable lack of human figures, echoing 2021’s CLOSE, which explored architectural repetition.
ICON: When did you first pick up a camera and what inspired you to become a photographer?
Michal Zahornacky: For me, photography is a form of expression of my moods and feelings. However, it wasn’t always like that especially at the beginning as I bought my first camera for trips with family and friends. Gradually, I began to discover everything that can be done with photographs and I started to experiment, so photography became a tool for self-expression. ICON: What inspired your project Dots?
MZ: I love aerial photography. It allows us to see ordinary things from a completely different perspective. Often people don’t realise that the ordinary things we all encounter on a daily basis can look very geometric, minimalistic or even abstract from above.
I like that when viewed from above, a person only appears as a tiny element like a dot, so I try to show people as dots in space and create abstract images. In this project, I depict natural settings that a person may encounter on a daily basis and at the same time these can look very artistic from above.
Photography by Michal Zahornacky
ICON: What are your favourite images from this collection?
MZ: I like all the photos from this project, but if I wanted to single one out, it would be the table tennis image.ICON: Your work blurs the lines between reality and fiction. How does this factor into your work and how do you choose who and where to shoot?
MZ: I choose topics that interest me. I shoot mostly realistic scenes with simple edits. I like balancing on the boundary between photography and graphics, creating a clean and visual aesthetic. That’s why I really like the CLOSE and DOTS projects. ICON: What do you hope your images portray to the viewer?
MZ: I hope they show a new way of looking at photography. I hope the viewer will stop for a moment and think about how the photo was taken or created. I hope that they will think about how small a person is in this world and that we should be more aware of the environment in which we live.
ICON: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
MZ: I try to perceive everything that happens around me and draw beauty from it. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when everything was closed and we stayed at home, I saw things only through the window because we couldn’t go out.
That’s when the CLOSE architectural project was created from the environment in which I live in at that moment. It is necessary to keep our eyes open because beauty is everywhere around us, we just have to grasp it.
Photography by Michal Zahornacky
ICON: What current or future projects are you working on?
MZ: Currently, I enjoy figurative photography in the studio, and over the summer, I would like to devote myself to urban photography, going out to places where I could find some inspiration. I would like to further expand the DOTS project.ICON: What’s next on the agenda for you?
MZ: Currently, finishing the book of the CLOSE project, which takes up most of my time. It will be a very nice and modern book with selected photos from the project, and it will also include photos that have not yet been published. The book will also be in English, so it will also be available abroad. It will be on sale this year.ICON: Where can we follow you?
MZ: On Instagram via @michal_zahornacky
View the full project in ICON 211: The 20th Anniversary Issue or get a curated collection of architecture and design news like this in your inbox by signing up to our ICON Weekly newsletter