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ART: Ladislav Bielik – A Man with a Bare Chest Issue number
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Ladislav Bielik was born on May 28, 1939, in Levice. In 1965, he landed a job at the sports magazine Štart and, a year later, became a photojournalist with a daily titled Smena. The photographs he took in the streets of Bratislava during the first days of intervention by the Warsaw Pact countries in August 1968 became the highlight of his photography career. He left Smena and returned to Štart in 1971 but after 1975, was forced to leave the editorial staff of the magazine as one of the victims of the Normalization period due to his photographs from the intervention. A photo entitled The Bare-chested Man in Front of the Occupier’s Tank was added to an exhibition collection of World Press Photo. This iconic photo is a fixture in the most renowned sets of the best photographs of the 20th century. Ladislav Bielik died in Budapest in 1984 during an auto race while working.
A triangle composition of photography consists of inhabitant Emil Gallo stands before the gun barrel of an occupation tank and the building of Comenius University in the background. Photojournalist Ladislav Bielik captured the gesture on film at that crucial moment. Thus creating the photograph that would become the most significant symbol of the Slovak and Czech resistance against the Warsaw Pact invasion of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1968. This and a further 186 photographs taken by Bielik in the streets of Bratislava are important evidence and testimony of the Warsaw Pact intervention against the emerging democracy at the heart of Europe. They document a historic drama that wrestled itself out of the hands of Moscow’s directors and screenwriters. For several days the people of the Czechoslovakia, no longer reduced to bit-part players and bystanders, became the main protagonists of the intellectual resistance against occupation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Peter Bielik

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