Lars Tunbjörk

Lars Tunbjörk,(1956-2015), is one of Sweden´s most acknowledged photographers. His pictures, whether they are verging on the surreal or the humorous, always captures the Swedish soul. With humor and melancholy, Tunbjörk´s photographs portray the intersection between the commercial and the social, the personal and the generic, uniquely visualizing the ways in which modern life in cookie-cutter houses and blasé modernist office buildings is both harrowing and vapid, yet captivating and unique, full of repetition and banality, but also moments of enchantment and absurdity. Tunbjörk achieved this by situating his images in seemingly nonspecific, domestic and commercial settings, places whose commonplace character would be unremarkable if not for the individuality that he was able to capture in each photo. Each individual image stands as a microcosmic peak into a social system of both order and confusion, where people standout as they sunbathe on finely groomed lawns in closed residential communities, or office workers hunch over filing cabinets yet appear sanctimonious, as though genuflecting with reverence in these sterile commercial spaces. The sum total effect is something akin to the whimsy of Winogrand mixed with a sumptuous color palette reminiscent of Eggleston. The end results are photographs that are both formally rich and personally engaging.

The culled works, furthermore, reveal a critical edge to Tunbjörk´s project. Though each individual photograph stands on its own merits, the aggregate whole speaks to the anxieties of peoples caught up in a post-industrial world of increasing commercialism. Whether in scenes of rural Swedish leisure, as in Landet Utom Sig, the suburbanization and Ikea-fication of the traditional neighborhood in Home or the constraints and strains of the seemingly omnipotent commercial sector in Office, a certain sense of loss and detachment courses throughout the work.

For his series Vinter, Lars Tunbjörk travelled through Sweden from 2004 to 2007 capturing the melancholic winter atmosphere of Northern Europe and recording the mental state that closes in on the people of Scandinavia in the dark months of the year. For Tunbjörk himself, the project was originally first and foremost a creative way to cope with his own depressive mood, which regularly beset him in the winter months. In Winter, Lars Tunbjörk completely abandoned his black-and-white beginnings to concentrate on the exploration of colour, which he approached in the style of American photography of the 1970´s. A photograph, for Tunbjörk, appears as a double-edged sword, highlighting the quirkiness of daily life while visualizing the loss that has come with social and material progress.