Joakim Eskildsen presents a series of photographs he took in Skagen, an area in the far north of Denmark known for the special quality of light that illuminates the seaside landscape. But the photographer also sought to capture it in everyday scenes and in urban settings. The colourful atmosphere in which the images are bathed is not unrelated to that which characterises his style. Skagen has in the past inspired many painters, among them Peder Severin Krøyer, whom Joakim Eskildsen wanted to emulate.
Mr Eskildsen, what is Skagen for you?
I love water, the sea and little villages. I am not a big-city photographer. Skagen is the "end" of Denmark: it is where the North Sea and Baltic Sea meet, and of course that is something special. In addition, there is this history that it used to be a very isolated place and an artists' colony. Things are entirely different today. Skagen is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Denmark and many people have their holiday homes there. Everything is nonetheless very fine and very beautiful. But I am less interested in that. What interests me are the Skagen painters.
What is it about these painters that inspires you?
Today documentary and fine-art photographers generally have their
themes, and they travel to them. Back then, the Skagen painters often painted their families - daughter, son, wife, a family celebration - or their friends, that is, the people from their immediate surroundings. That is actually exactly what I find exciting: not having to travel and, instead, being able to devote your attention to the life right outside your front door: that you work where you live. I like to photograph the landscape and people around my home town, my village. That is also how the Skagen painters did things - 150 years ago.
What is important to you in your art?
Authenticity! I try to live the way that my pictures should look. My life should be a big picture. In my home, I try to surround myself solely with timeless and natural materials. I have an ideal notion of life as an interaction between humankind and nature. My best pictures are the ones in which both are in balance and which thus come close to my vision.
Interview published on the occasion of the exhibition "In the Light of Skagen, from Peder Severin KrØyer to Joakim Eskildsen" at the MKdW Museum in Alkersum, 2017.
Joakim Eksildsen, « Nothing Special », réal. Martin Zarka, courtesy Meero Studio, 2019 (extraits)
“I started photographing when I was 14 years old the first years, I photographed around the house, the fields and the forest. From the first beginning, it was a certain light or weather condition that inspired me and made me eager to go out. Since that time, I have moved away from the village and started to photograph on different journeys. The first works were from Scandinavia, Portugal, and then all around Europe, India and Africa. At some point, my interest started turning back to the beginnings, and to the things that had so much inspired me at first. I felt it was a relief to photograph in the immediate surroundings, rediscovering what had made me so interested in photography – an artistic homecoming as it were. It coincided with the time my son was born, a little later my daughter. Consequently, my family started for looking for a good place to live, which has taken us to seven different homes – in Finland, Denmark and Germany.”
Born in 1971
Lives and works near Berlin
Represented by Persons Projects, Berlin and Polka Gallery, Paris