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.
JH Engstrom has had many solo shows including one at The Finnish Museum of Photography (Helsinki, Finland, 2018), at the Värmlands Museum (Sweden, 2017 and 2009); Hôtel Fontfreyde, Clermont-Ferrand (France, 2016); FOAM Amsterdam (Netherland, 2014); National Media Museum, Bradford (United Kingdom, 2010) or at the Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg (Sweden, 2005). His photographs have joined the collections of the Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winterthur, Switzerland); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (USA); the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (Sweden) or again the Musée Nicéphore Nièpce (Chalon-sur-Saône, France). He has authored many publications, including Shelter (1997); Trying to Dance (Journal, 2003); Haunts (Steidl, 2005); CDG/JHE (Steidl, 2008); Foreign Affair (Super Labo, 2011); La Résidence (Journal, 2009); From Back Home (Max Ström, 2009); Sketch of Paris (Aperture, 2013); Långt Från Stockholm (Aron Mörel, 2013), Ende und Anfang, Early Trips (André Frère Éditions, 2013); Tout va bien (Aperture, 2015); Revoir (Akio Nagasawa Publishing / Journal, 2017); Crash (Akio Nagasawa Publishing, 2018); and four films and video installations: Här/Ici/Here (shortfilm, 5 mn., JH Engström, 2017); The Words (simultaneous screenings, 6h., 2017); Bertil and Maggan : a documentary (28 mn, Jenny Örnborn, Story, 2006); A film about/with Anders Petersen (52 mn, JH Engström, 2006); He is the recipient of international prizes and grants including the Leica Oskar Barnack Prize (Tout Va Bien, 2015); the Golden Letter (La Résidence, 2012); the Rencontre d’Arles photobook prize (From Back Home, with Anders Petersen, 2009); he was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photographic Prize (Trying to Dance, 2005) and received a grant from the Andrea Frank Foundation (1998). He is the winner of the Photographic Book of the year in Sweden (with Shelter, 1998).