A life of taking pictures | Photographer Henrik Saxgren | Louisiana Channel

“Photography is light. You approach some chaos and frame it – and create order and calm.” Meet the renowned Danish photographer Henrik Saxgren who in this sensitive portrait reflects upon a life taking pictures and the art of getting behind the surface.

“I think a good photo can be the basis of a conversation between people. At the least the type of pictures that I seek to make. I seek to make open statements.”

To Saxgren, photography is a different way of presenting reality. He wants to let people see familiar things in a new way. “I don’t see many other purposes of art than to offer people a different way of seeing the same.”

In recent years, and especially after the early death of his wife, Saxgren has focused on photographing landscapes. “Landscape photography has almost taken the place of landscape painting. There aren’t many landscape painters anymore. But in principle, I work the same way they do. It isn’t the camera or the computer that decides what the image will look like. Only I decide what colours I want to emerge. I build the image.”

Looking back, Saxgren reflects upon his upbringing and how his scepticism towards authorities formed his early approach. At an early stage, he became interested in political issues and taking pictures of people that reached beyond their facade. He regards the camera as his entry ticket to the world. “Alone in a bar, I wouldn’t dream of talking to the person on my left or right. But if I have my camera, I can approach a complete stranger and say: ‘I am interested in you. May I come closer?’ If you have an ambition like mine to get close to the people I photograph and to get behind the façade, you are entering an intimate space. You can’t get access to the intimate space if you don’t lay yourself bare. The rule of thumb is that you don’t get more than you give. If you want intimacy, you have to offer intimacy.”

Born in Randers in 1959, Saxgren has travelled and worked extensively all over the world and is today regarded as one of Scandinavia’s leading and most recognized photographers. His works are represented in the collections of ARoS Kunstmuseum (Aarhus), Randers Kunstmuseum, Tønder Kunstmuseum, Ribe Kunstmuseum, Johannes Larsen Museet (Kerteminde), Det Nationale Fotomuseum (København), Skagen Museum, Hasselblad Center, Göteborg Kunstmuseum, Museet for Fotokunst (Odense), Det Nationalhistoriske Museum på Frederiksborg Slot, Noorderlight Photography Gallery, Ny Carlsbergfondet and Statens Kunstfond. Saxgren has received numerous prizes such as Deutscher Fotobuchpreis in 2018 for his book Ultima Thule published by Hatje Cantz.

Henrik Saxgren was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in the spring of 2021 – first during a field trip to the west coast of Jutland, later at Narayana Press in Gylling as well as his Copenhagen studio (all Denmark). All images shown in the video are © to Henrik Saxgren.

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Drone shots: David Schweiger
Edited by Klaus Elmer
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021

Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond.

#HenrikSaxgreen #Photography

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