Viktor Kolář combines intellectual contemplation of and empathy toward his subjects. Psychological dynamics was central to his work produced in Canada and the USA from 1968 to 1973 where he shot in public places and in the streets of Hamilton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and New York and continued to capture him after his return to Ostrava. His photographs of the streets of Ostrava in the 1970s-80s reveal the psychological state of people in front of his lens and at the same time bring viewers in contact with the atmosphere of the time formed by the imposed rules of the communist state, destruction of values, loss of the utopia and anticipation of change. In his photographs of the independent Czech republic the symbols of a new capitalist society – shopping malls, cheep markets, ubiquitous advertising – contrast with the residents of Ostrava unfamiliar with market economy. Contradictory motifs of this later work trace back to Kolář’s early photographs and derive from his aspiration to embrace all of the multifaceted reality of the city. Kolář says about these photographs, “…I have to be as realistic about the new order as I was about the old one. Sentimentality will not save us”.
In 1991 Kolář won the award from the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography. His solo exhibitions took place at the photography festival Mesiac Fotografie in Bratislava (2011), in Leica Gallery in New York (2002), Musée de l’Elysée pour la photographie in Lausanne (1998), the Photographic Center in Athens (1997). As part of group exhibitions his work was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago (2001), Barbican Art Gallery in London (2006), The Art Institute of Chicago (2001), Museum Ludwig in Köln (1990), FotoFest in Houston (1990), The Photographers’ Gallery in London (1985), Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie (1983). Kolář works are included in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, International Center of Photogpraphy in New York, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Musée de l’Elysee pour la photographie in Lausanne, Museum Ludwig in Köln.