Born in Karlstad in 1969, JH Engström is a Swedish photographer and video artist. He lives and works between Paris and Smedsby (Värmland, Sweden).
JH Engström first grew up in the remote province of Värmland in central Sweden until the family moved to Paris when he was 10 years old. An overwhelming change that prompted him early on to look at his own existence, forging a vision rooted in these contrasting living environments opposing the slow-time energy of the Swedish countryside to the exaltation of Parisian life. In 1993, he settled in Stockholm where he shared the lab with Anders Petersen, a leading figure with a determinant influence in the expressive dimension of his work. He applied these precepts at the Gothenburg University school of photography until 1997 before moving to New York between 1998 and 2000 where he spent time at Robert Frank’s studio.
Engström’s practice is based on the bypass of all rules and advocates great freedom of style. Feeling at ease with the instantaneous as much as with the staged frame, a virtuoso of the black and white and of color, he masters the accident and toys with techniques to question photography itself. In the years 2000-2010, his forms of representations evolved to combine various means including installation, video, books and writing as a way to abolish hierarchies between the images and introduce an ethereal lyricism into his work.
An intuitive approach that conceals a very personal reading of the world in which the autobiographical exploration is central. JH Engström demonstrates that all things carry vital energy within, that solitude and empathy, feelings of safety or on the contrary, vulnerability, are experienced every day. Hence, each portrait or self-portrait, still life or landscape, holds a sum of recollections and constitutes an intimate, visual and poetic journal that addresses each and every one. In 2012, JH Engström and Margot Wallard established Atelier Smedsby, a one-year workshop with three week-end sessions allowing participants to exchange with the two artists about their photographic work.