Simen Johan (Norwegian, b. 1973)

Simen Johan (b. 1973; Norway)  originally drew attention in the early 1990s by merging digital manipulation with traditional darkroom techniques. Since then, he has developed a hybrid form of image-making, integrating candidly photographed animals and landscapes with modest studio and location setups. The artist travels near and far to photograph his source material, finding inspiration anywhere from the local zoo to the jungles of Costa Rica or the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. Countless hours are then spent assembling disparate images into a unifying whole as he edits, composes and populates each mise-en-scène. The resulting photographs often lack a sense of place which, for Johan - who was born in Norway, raised in Sweden, moved to New York City at age 19 - somehow feels like home. Johan's portraits, landscapes, and narrative works unite to construct a metaphorically dense world where, as in our own, roles are adopted, dramas unfold and the distinctions between reality and fantasy dissolve.


Simen Johan has exhibited widely across the globe, including at the 21c Museum, Louisville, KY; Ciurlionis National Art Museum, Lithuania; Fotografiska, Stockholm, Sweden; and Center for Photography, Ykatinburg, Russia. Johan's work is held in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Cleveland Art Museum, OH; Museum of Fine Art Houston, TX; Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; and the Denver Art Museum, CO, among others. The artist is the recipient of the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Grant for Photography, Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant, American-Scandinavian Foundation Grant, MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. In 2003, Twin Palms published his monograph, Room to Play. Simen Johan was born in Norway in 1973, raised in Sweden and has resided in New York City since 1992.