Photographer, famous for documenting the Nowa Huta district in Kraków.
Wiktor Pental was born on the 18th of January 1920 in Woroniszki, a village in the province of Nowogródzka. He became interested in photography in high school when he began using the cameras of his class friends. During the Second World War he was a soldier in the Polish Army and a camera always accompanied him into the battle, first at the front then in the underground.
In 1950, he was sentenced to one year in prison as an enemy of Polish People's Republic for his allegiances during the wartime resistance, but only served seven months. After Pental’s release from prison he worked as a builder as the new industrial city Nowa Huta came into being, and had a rare opportunity to document those streets near Kraków, which during the 1950s were the site of constant, ambitious construction.
Together with Henryk Makarewicz, he was the developed a unique photographic record documenting the emerging of Nowa Huta from the ground up, revealing how its form came to shape the community that moved there to man its nearby steel mills.
According to experts, the work of Pental can be compared with the achievements of the great names in world photojournalism.
His photographs are marked with an unusual sense of humor, distancing the viewer from the socialist system being imposed at the time. Due to this, a large part of his body of work gained a wide audience and has been exhibited extensively, and gaining him international recognition toward the end of his life.
The Imago Mundi Foundation based in Kraków exhibited Pental's work widely for the first time in 2007. Their show, 802 Percent of the Norm, took place in Warsaw. The exhibit included giant enlargements of portraits taken by Pental of Nowa Huta's labor leaders, displayed on the Palace of Culture and Science, the capital’s tallest building, .
His work was then presented during the 2008 Noorderlicht Festival in Holland, the 2011 FotoFest in Great Britain, the 2012 Foto Festival in Łódź as well as the 2012 PARIS PHOTO. His works have been published in the international media and have become a point of reference for much research. Pental’s works can be found in private collections and prestigious institutions worldwide.
Sources: PAP, author: LS; 20/08/2013
Translation: SMG 21/08/2013
Selected photographs by Wiktor Pental – Image Gallery