Back to events

Simen Johan Until the Kingdom Comes

Simen Johan (b. 1973) initially drew attention in the early 90s by merging digital manipulation with traditional darkroom techniques. He has since developed a hybrid form of image-making, integrating candidly photographed animals and landscapes with a compositional structuring and conceptual intent typically associated with painting and cinema. Johan born in Kirkenes, Norway, was raised in Sweden and has been established in New York for over two decades.


Combining image elements that he photographed in a variety of international locations, Johan’s images reveal poetic and often unexpected relationships that speak to the illusory and multifaceted nature of existence. Stripes on a dazzle of Grévy’s zebras mesh with the fronds of geographically incongruent palms; jaguars in a tree are both defined and obscured by their spots and dappled sunlight; pigeons flock towards light like moths (or angels). Tensions between what is revealed and what is concealed, what is alluring and what is menacing, what is fact and what is fiction, both shape and unsettle the scenes. These amalgamations of sentiments, creatures, and environments are printed near life-size to mimic the scale of natural vision.

Growing up, Simen Johan wanted to become a filmmaker, inspired by directors such as Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg and David Lynch, whose movies transported him to “suspenseful, strange and psychologically-charged places that didn’t merely entertain, but also revealed complex truths about life, people and the world.” After studying film in Falun, Sweden, he moved to New York City in 1992 to study at the School of Visual Arts, a decision encouraged by his step grandfather and filmmaker Rod E. Geiger. The staggering costs of film production soon influenced him to change his field of study to photography.

“Photography to me was the next best thing. The still image too can have considerable narrative and symbolic power and – unlike film – in photography, I could do everything myself. Since the beginning I looked for ways to manipulate my photographs. Initially, I did so through various darkroom experiments and manual cut-and-paste collaging techniques, and then in my second year I discovered Photoshop.”

Johan’s interest in filmmaking is apparent in his work, where atmosphere, symbolism and emotion create drama and communicate meaning.

Outdoor Gallery
Uks maailmatasemel fotokunstikeskusesse