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The dream factory

A field strewn with stars, a delivery of full moons, a swarm of fish… A virtuoso of distortion and collusion of images, playing with photographic illusionism with the irreverent audacity of poets and the deceptive ingenuity of magicians, Erik Johansson has been dreaming, imagining, constructing, and photographing since 2007, parallel worlds born of improbable superpositions.

 “Twisting reality without ever losing the impression of realism”: such is the neo-surrealist line of the young Swedish photographer; a surrealism closer to fantasy than science fiction. In the age of computer-generated images, this great image conjuror uses bricolages and collages to create real-false sets with truncated, inverted or demultiplied perspectives. Facing the observer with visual enigmas, these dreamlike settings, mixing humor and fantasy, ecological disasters and cosmic reveries, are reminiscent of the truculent tricks of Méliès in the early days of cinema.  

Games of scale and perspective, mise en abîme (landscape in landscape), inversions (inside/outside, top/bottom, sky/earth), duplications, contaminations, and unusual inclusions… in his upside-down images, Johansson plays with the disruption of physical laws and the transgression of logic to the point of absurdity to push back the frontiers of reality. 

“Surrealism has never been for me a new kind of magic. The imagination, the dream, all this intense liberation of the unconscious, which aims to make appear on the surface of the soul what it has the habit of keeping hidden, must necessarily introduce deep transformations in the scale of the appearances […] The concrete all changes of vêture, of bark […] The beyond, the invisible pushes back the reality. The world does not hold any more,” wroteAntonin Artaud in 1927, in A la grande nuit ou le bluff surréaliste.

In Erik Johansson’s landscapes, recomposed in situ or in the studio (before being photographed, edited, and retouched), the world no longer holds together or hangs by a thread, bodies stagger, the earth crumbles… Many roads have no exit, but the ladders lead to the sky, and the doors open onto the domain of dreams…

A woman/fairy plucks the stars with (giant) tweezers, a lake breaks like a mirror, a road tears and folds like a leaf, a landscape slides into the void, another floats in a bottle while a mountain spreads out in large snowy draperies in a bedroom metamorphosing into a ski resort… From trompe-l’oeil to camouflage, from distorted perspective to endless reflections, this photographer, who wants to “capture the impossible,” re-enchants the world.

Exhibition Erik Johansson: Ideas come at night

Until April 24th 

The Swedish Institute – 11, rue Payenne, Paris III –

Stéphanie Dulout