“I never thought about making an A-to-B story,” JH Engström says of the impetus for his latest monograph, Sketch of Paris (Aperture). “Memories [were] all mixing.” The Swedish photographer, who grew up in bucolic Värmland before moving to Paris at the age of 10, spent his adolescence and early adulthood between the two countries, and credits the French capital with the birth of his artistic practice. Sketch of Paris is a testament to that. “That universe, I found it in Paris,” Engström explains. “I realized people could work with art.”
Engström translates experiences from his personal life into images that explore universal and existential themes, transforming events from the singularly personal to the easily accessible. Once an assistant to Mario Testino and Anders Petersen in the early ’90s, Engström is also exceedingly fluent—and prolific—in the medium of the photo book. “The book has a way of expressing itself, ” he asserts, citing a certain freedom from the formality of an exhibition that aptly suits photography.
Sketch of Paris possesses that freedom. Comprised of a series of photographs taken over two decades, Sketch of Paris is a roaming, freewheeling account of Engström’s encounters in the city from 1991 to 2012. Collected from the bars, streets, and homes Engström frequented, the end result is an intensely intimate, raw, and expressive document and portrait of past loves, adventures, and characters adrift in an ever-shifting cityscape. Comprised of 314 pages, with 250 color and black-and-white images, Sketch of Paris, in all its expansiveness, serves not only as an homage to the city that fostered Engström’s personal and photographic vision, but also as a window into a pivotal period in the development of his work.
SKETCH OF PARIS IS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE APERTURE FOUNDATION SHOP. JH ENGSTRÖM WILL RELEASE HIS BOOKS LÅNGT FRÅN STOCKHOLM (MÖREL BOOKS) AND ENDE UND ANFANG-EARLY TRIPS (ÉDITION ANDRÉ FRÈRE) LATER THIS YEAR. HIS WORK WILL BE SEEN IN THE COLLABORATIVE BOX SET LOST HOME (SUPER LABO).