JH Engström

Frome back home

March 29 – May 10, 2014
Opening March 28, 6-9 pm
Opening speaker: Kim Knoppers, curator at FOAM in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In his collection From Back Home the Swedish photographer JH Engström traced his childhood memories back to the province of Värmland, in the west of Sweden. Together with his friend, the internationally acclaimed photographer Anders Petersen, Engström revisited his native land to pay tribute to the people, light and landscapes.  He says: “I can only make photographs of what I feel, of what results from my encounters with people. In this regard, my work is completely subjective. At the same time, I am interested in objectivity, in the fact that since you take photographs, you always deal with reality. And in this respect, I am not interested in subjectivity. It’s a paradox”.

In his previous work like Trying Dance (Journal, 2003), many of Engström’s self-portraits and portraits are nudes. Nudity does not serve as means to present an erotically overcharged vision of life; rather, it represents a degree zero of identity and difference, a symbol of the ever-elusive presence of the Other that Engström is trying to grasp. “Vulnerability is a key word,” he says. “I like to question why we are vulnerable and how we deal with it”

From Back Home is a large series made during 2001 and 2008. About a hundred prints in the exhibition gives a beautiful mix of fading colors and black and white with portraits and landscapes seen with the special eye that only Engström has. He gives us a deep human insight about the province he calls home.

The book From Back Home (Max Ström, 2009) was awarded the book prize at Les Rencontres d’Arles and comprises a multifarious collection of coloured and black and white portraits, landscapes, still-lives, close-ups and aerial shots. The images are united by a sense of spontaneity, an ephemeral tone that lends them an air of tenderness. These are works of intimacy and loss, exploring questions of time, memory and the possibility of return.

JH Engström was born 1969 in Karlstad, Sweden. In 1997 he graduated from the Photography and Film department at Gothenburg University. Engstrom has shown work internationally in many exhibitions including the 2005 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, Ca me touche, les invités de Nan Goldin, at Les Rencontres d’Arles festival, France, 2009. The photobook has always been an important way of  expression for him. Engström has released 13 monographs so far.