Johan Strindberg took an interest in photography when he was fifteen via painting that turned into collage, which, in turn, gave rise to the idea of taking his own pictures for the collages. Johan Strindberg never returned to painting. He grew up listening to music by Thåström, in the car, a beige Opel Kadett, on his way somewhere with his father behind the wheel, smoking constantly and playing “Ich Liebe Dich”. Perhaps there are echoes of Thåström’s music in his photographs; at any rate, Thåström has remained a source of inspiration for Johan Strindberg.
There is an affinity between Strindberg’s images and those of photographers such as Tuija Lindström, Nina Korhonen, Anders Petersen and Michael Ackerman. However, Johan Strindberg has continued to explore the medium of photography. He has discovered his own world, his own identity. “I garner inspiration from everyday life and the life which I would love to live, my non-everyday life. And also from childhood memories, Jämtland of the 1990s, dreams, the countryside, abandoned buildings, the light and the darkness.”
Johan Strindberg takes photographs every day, in a documentary fashion, always carrying a small camera in his pocket, looking around, often while walking his dog. “Photography is like a disease which I both enjoy and am troubled by,” he explains. “It’s consuming me, devouring my energies, possessing me. But it also gives me something in return. Like joy. A job. A way of expressing myself.”
“My ambition is not to document a ‘truth’,” Johan continues. “These are my own small worlds. I want to show things that interest me, things that run into me, things with a visual quality, a universally quality, inasmuch as someone can connect to them.
“However, my images rarely turn out the way I imagined them. Then I rephotograph them, several times, layer upon layer, to create the image I had in mind,” Johan explains. His motifs are embedded in an atmospheric, dreamy shimmer. He also nourishes an idea of transferring his black-and-white photographs onto other materials and surfaces such as wood and metal. “I direct my scenes and display small lies.”
Johan Strindberg has perfected a particularly acute sense of light, which is a hallmark of his photography. A poetic approach, an atmosphere, evocative and enigmatic, food for thought. He claims that pictures should communicate a feeling, there has to be a tension, something over and above the motif. This something is often the light. When he sees a special light, his hand responds to it.
Johan Strindberg tells stories in images, an ongoing process without end. “I photograph what I’m interested in; I never think about how the pictures are related. But somehow they are related; I don’t know how, but they lead a lovely life together.”
Johan Strindberg was educated at the Fridhems Folk High School and Gamleby School of Photography. He is active as a photographer in Stockholm pursuing commercial commissions and artistic projects. In 2014 he was awarded the Young Nordic Photographer of the Year prize, instituted by Fotografiska and Panasonic Lumix and a one-year working grant from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.
The Jury statement:“Johan Strindberg transforms everyday elements into evocative, unique and visually powerful expressions, mixed with both humour and melancholy. With his ability to harness technical skill to communicate multilayered emotions, he stands out among many of his contemporary colleagues. Strindberg’s way of distilling the world beyond the visible is so universal that there is no need to define time and space. He displays an impressively solid foundation and an artistic development which convinces us that he is an exceptionally promising young Nordic photographer.”