Petra (born in Ljubljana, Slovenia) became interested in photography fairly late, in the final year of grammar school, when her friend was looking for someone to apply with for a photography course. She was fortunate to have been initiated into the world of photography by prematurely departed painter and photographer Dušan Pirih Hup. Together they delved into the basic of photography starting with camera obscura, for many hours locked into the darkroom of KUD France Prešeren or lingering in its vicinity, looking for motifs for various assignments. She had some group exhibitions, displaying the fruits of this explorations.
When a student (Faculty of Social Sciences, Cultural Studies), she pursued photography on the theoretical level, whenever possible integrating it into seminar papers, and even graduating in photography. As one needs to work for a living – and she knew that books did not interest her much – she searched for an occupation where at least some creativity was required. During this time she considerably neglected photography and dedicated herself to studying and exploring graphic design. Currently, she’s holding the post of Art Director of the Slovene edition of Cosmopolitan magazine.
In 2008, her interest in photography was rekindled by invitation to exhibit in Bohinj during the Kanal Festival. Her solo show, presenting photo shots during the previous ten years, was titled My Favorite Guitarists. She has always been drawn to music, either as a listener or photographer. In Bohinj she met also a great slovene photographer Žiga Koritnik. Ever since his workshop (2009) she has been addicted to photography and music, both of which today form an integral part of her life. She finds music a remedy and invigorating boost of energy. The photos she takes during the concerts are her way of sharing the beauties of the world, which is so nice to rediscover and abandon yourself to.
Some photos from previous years are on Jazz italia web page.
Petras’ Photo Exhibitions:
- 2018: Zlatko Kaucic: 40 years of playing – group exhibition at City Library, Kranj, Slovenia
- 2017: “Jazzy-ga! and pupils” – group exhibition at Jazz Cerkno Festival, Cerkno, Slovenia
- 2016: Sweet Addiction – solo exhibition at Hisa Kulture, Smartno, Slovenia
- 2016: In-between-space – group exhibition at Loski muzej, Skofja Loka, Slovenia
- 2015: Sweet Addiction – solo exhibition at Skopje Jazz Festival, Skopje, Macedonia
- 2014: In Women’s Hands – solo exhibition at Stockwerk Jazz, Graz, Austria
- 2014: Double Vision – group exhibition at Festival Unlimited28, Wels, Austria
- 2014: Portrait Mats Gustafsson 50 – group exhibition/projection at Porgy & Bess, Vienna, Austria
- 2014: In Women’s Hands – solo exhibition at Layer House, Kranj, Slovenia
- 2013: Petra’s World – solo exhibition at Jesharna, Skofja Loka, Slovenia
- 2013: ‘This is our music!’ – group exhibition at Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 2013: Petra’s World – solo exhibition at Ljubljana City Library, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 2013: Jazz-World-Photo – group exhibition at Jazzinec festival in Trutnov, Czech
- 2011: Sweet Addiction – solo exhibition at Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 2010: An Impressive Collection – a group exhibition at Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 2008: My Favorite Guitarists – solo exhibition at Festival Kanal Bohinj, Slovenia
- 1998: KUD France Prešeren Photo Workshop Annual Exhibition – group exhibition, Slovenia
- 1996: KUD France Prešeren Photo Workshop Annual Exhibition – group exhibition, Slovenia
- 1994: KUD France Prešeren Photo Workshop Annual Exhibition – group exhibition, Slovenia
About her project Sweet Addiction through Luca Vitali‘s eyes:
The essence of beauty of music … condensed in a glance. This is the feeling Petra’s photographs have raised in us in these last years: that of an immense beauty!
These photos are her personal way to illustrate the charm of the world and share her passion for jazz. It is of vital importance to her to achieve this goal and surrender to such charming addiction.
“Sweet Addiction” – what better name for one of her exhibitions? – recalls the sweetness of her smile, her love for music and its advocates, but also brings to mind the power of her framing and her musical tastes.
Yes, Petra loves venturing into seismic musical matter to be handled with care, so far from the mainstream track. Free Jazz and improvised music is the area in which she has managed to create a noteworthy space and a reputation, standing out for quality and distinction. Many must have noticed these talents of hers, since records with pictures of her on the cover or in the liner notes come through my hands time and again…
Petra’s world is made of inspired moments, whose leading characters are always shown in the best light. An amazing job whose roots lie in a particular poetic vein and does not need to resort to such contemporary “tricks of the trade” as desaturation and contrast –which seem to gratify many of her colleagues who end up depicting a world that is merely populated by synthetic masks, as of Plasticine. Petra’s subjects retain their human, vibrating side and her tale is one of empathy and art: she does not intend to capture with special effects, but emphatically takes part in the creative process, the unexpected, the epiphany which demands respect and observation… since, above all, Petra loves music and respects its exponents. She is not the “ruthless” photographer you often chance to meet at festivals mercelessly taking rapid-fire pictures – in a continuous “annoying” movement just few inches away from the musicians. She moves soft-footed and captures moments of creativeness unperceived, unaffectedly and with great discretion.
Every shot stands between two moments of listening, mid-way between the eyes-closed and the eyes-open state: watchful and powerful eyes knowing well how to catch real gems in just one second.
“Sweet Addiction” is more than just an exhibition: it is Petra’s personal journey to quell her addiction to jazz music.
– by Luca Vitali, 2015
About her project Sweet Addiction through Ken Vandermark‘s eyes:
There are important parallels in the history of development between photography and jazz and improvised music. Photography began to find its voice as an art form when it moved away from an attempt to replicate 19th century painting conventions and entered the modernism of the 20th century. As that happened, photographers were present to document artists who were creating one of the most important and influential music forms of the new century. Fans and critics gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of jazz and improvised music through iconic images taken by photographers like William Claxton, William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Val Wilmer, and Francis Wolff; of artists like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Mary Lou Williams, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Ornette Coleman. The music kept evolving and photography kept changing, both art forms incorporated different aesthetic ideas and innovations in technology as the century progressed. Now- in the beginning of the new millennium- the profusion of music that can downloaded or streamed online, and the superabundance of images that can be taken and viewed on every phone, has created a situation that can make it very difficult to actually be heard as a musician or seen as a photographer.
Petra Cvelbar is special in this regard. Her photographs are much, much more than the now typical shots of people onstage playing their instruments. The work stands out, it is individual. She does what few photographers have been able to do since the early 20th century- truly capture an improvising artist “in the moment.” This is an ongoing challenge because- both from the standpoint of the musician and the photographer- it’s a moment that can’t be planned, it is unpredictable and takes place during a spontaneous course of parallel action between the player and image maker. Despite these complexities, Petra Cvelbar has been able to indicate the 21st century reality for this music by showing individuals in the midst of creating or as characters in an instant of candid attitude- being human and who they are, as improvising artists and as people.
– by Ken Vandermark, 2018