One part fairy tale and two parts photojournalism, Matthew Monteith’s images of the Czech Republic are at once beautifully lush and somehow gloomy, full of drama and portent yet perfectly matter-of-fact. He shows us a country still suffering from the aftereffects of a bitter Soviet occupation, but also a magical place, the birthplace of Kafka, home to enchanted forests and to gypsies. Even the most quotidian scenes contain half-hidden meanings and lurking emotion: we see grim apartment blocks unnaturally close to pretty 19th-century houses; a slightly gaunt young couple bathing in a lake with their cherubic infant; a small, haphazardly erected tent in a clearing in the woods. In many of the photographs, young Czech men and women look back at us expectantly: haunted by the past, waiting for the future.
A collection of Matthew Monteith’s photographs, Czech Eden, will be published this month by Aperture.