Tag Archives: beauty

“Painting With Light” at Tate Britain

The whole long title of this exhibition is “Painting With Light – Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age”. Since I believe that photography is an art – like painting or sculpture or graphic prints – the title may feel somehow a little misguided.

On the famous other hand, the exhibition covers a period of art history during which photography wasn’t broadly considered an art form.


As a matter of fact the aim is to show the visitor how closely the two have been in certain circles and how they interacted with each other through individual pioneers and small innovative milieus in both fields.

The show counts 90 pairings of paintings and photographs with striking similarities – never before displayed together.

It’s a very very fine educational exhibition that I warmly recommend. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures there so I can’t show you my impressions. Funnily, however, lots of the works are on Google images

But check things out on the above link as well as Tate’s in-depth info – here with direct comparisons.

Here is a very informative pre-exhibition article in Aesthetica. And here is a, rather critical review in The Telegraph arguing that this exhibition is more like a dry academic textbook than a lively exhibition.

I can’t judge; I just found all the juxtapositions of paintings and photography over 75 years very illuminating of a theme that has only become more and more important ever since and shows how art creators inspire and build on each other across media they choose.

Closes on September 25, 2016.


Shoot # 14

Lund, Sweden, June 28, 2015

“Couple With Clive Head” – In front of Clive Head’s ‘Thinking About Georges Braque’ 2013
© Jan Oberg 2015

I shoot out a single photo to you as a digital gift – a moment of meditation – and wish you a good Sunday and weekbegin.

What happens when we go to exhibitions? Much more than just looking at some art works.

Exhibtions are landscapes with pictures as scenaries in front of which spectators act and interact in particular ways. Many see art through their smart phones more than through their eyes.

They move in and out of art spaces and create ever-changing situations. Many come merely to be seen.

Can pictures of these art-ificial settings become art beyond documentation?

I explore that in some sketch-like photos I’ve uploaded to my Pinterest place under the headline  “Pictures At An Exhibition” (much else to see there).

Great artists like Eric Fischl, Thomas Struth and David Hockney have been interested in this perspective too.

Finally, don’t miss lots of new stuff about photography and other contemporary art around the world at the new GlobalArt Magazine which I curate. Welcome to follow it.

My best
Jan Oberg

PS Thanks for all encouraging comments to and sharing these “Shoots”

Art Basel (4) – What I like. Simply.

At a place with over 300 galleries and more than 4 000 artists from all over the world, it is of course impossible to mention everything one likes. Actually, if you have the slightest interest in contemporary art, it is much better you go there yourself next year; a pas to all four exhibition days is € 95 and I find it worth every Euro.

I won’t explain to you why I like the works below. But we live in times where it is important for many – no matter the field – to criticize, put down, appear more experienced, etc. for reasons I don’t know. I believe in positive energy, in inspiration and in learning from what others do – more from those you like than those you don’t like. After all, we may learn from our own mistakes but cannot essentially learn from those committed by others. But you can learn from those who are much better than yourself. Continue reading

Do a good photo deed for young women in Burundi

Buy a photographic print and give 50% to the woman’s education and family. Here is why and how!

Let me introduce to you Alberthine – “Tina” – Ndayishimiye  who was born in 1991. She studies communication at the Lac Tanganyika University in Bujumbura, the capital of tiny, beautiful Burundi. I met her for the first time this summer and there are now 9 photos of her on my photo homepage.


Tina # 4, Bujumbura, Burundi 2012
© Jan Oberg 2012

Tina is a very proud personality. She studies with diligence and finances her life by working evenings at a hotel reception. She is smart – no one has ever asked me so many and good questions about photography and business. She has not done photography before but as you’ll see right away she is stunning – with natural beauty, expressive face and a fine ability to just be herself and forget that I am there. Thus she is so easy to work with.

Why Burundi?
Many people don’t know where this little country is. It is south of Rwanda and one of the countries at the huge Lake Tanganyika. I’ve worked in Burundi since 1999 to promote reconciliation and peace after the genocide in the 1990s with non-governmental organizations (particularly two youth organizations), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a private university.
During longer stays I spend my spare time with eight female university students and a group of former street boys. We go to places, take pictures and learn a lot about each other. And we laugh a lot.


Tina # 9, Bujumbura, Burundi 2012
© Jan Oberg 2012

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Burundi Beauty

I’ve worked in Burundi since 1999 to promote reconciliation and peace after the genocide in the 1990s – with non-governmental organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a private university.

During longer stays I spend my spare time with eight female university students and a group of former street boys. We go to places, take pictures and learn a lot about each other. And we laugh a lot!

Here is Cynthia Ndongozi, a student of medicine born in 1986. She stood in the doorway of a simple hut in the countryside, torrential rains from dark clouds on an otherwise blue skye. Thus the blue lips.


Cynthia # 3, Bujumbura, Burundi  (2010)
© Jan Oberg

Most of the young women have no experience of being photographed. I ask them to decide the place, their clothes, make-up, if any, and how they want to appear and express themselves. The moment I – a muzungu = white man – would begin to tell them what to do and how to act, the natural beauty and spontaneity would be gone. I don’t like “models”, coolness and surface. I try to portray human beings in a natural way.

I take pictures in Burundi – also other people, villages, and the incredibly beautiful landscape – to show the strength and pride of people I meet. I seek to promote counter-images to the typical Western image of Africa as a lost, dark, hopeless continent. War, corruption, AIDS and poverty only makes up a fraction of today’s African reality.

Many foreign photographers pay those they take pictures of a one-time honorarium and may then sell their works at many times that honorarium in a fashionable gallery back home. I don’t; I think that’s a colonial attitude, not fair trade. We have a contract that entitles each to get 50 percent of what I sell. Thus I hope to make a small contribution towards their study fees and get them attracted to do business instead of just become a housewife in a society with a lot of sexual violence.

Here is Cynthia’s sister, Fiona. She studies business management – a modern city girl with a mobile phone in her hand. Oh what contrasts!


Fiona # 1, Bujumbura, Burundi  (2010)
© Jan Oberg

A camera is so much more than a tool for depicting reality. Sometimes it’s a bridge between people and cultures. Perhaps even a tool for peace…

“Cynthia # 3” & “Fiona # 1” Bujumbura, Burundi  (2010)
Inkjet print on Canson fine arts paper.
Formats & prices (excl postage) each:
A5 (148 × 210 mm) – Edition unlimited, 20 US$
A4 (210 × 297 mm) – Edition 50, US$ 115
A3+ (329 x 483 mm) – Edition 25, US$ 225
A1 (610 x 910 mm) – Edition 10, US$ 750
Signed and numbered.
Comes with print authenticity documentation
Can also be printed on canvas or steel, copper, etc.

Information/Order: janoberg@mac.com

Other photos from Burundi at

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden
June 1, 2012

Natural beauty

I find so many pictures of women nowadays “cool”, hard, flashy, “sexy” – utterly un-interesting and artificial. What’s wrong with letting a personality and some humanity shine through too? Why must you look like a plastic doll to advertise a product? I simply don’t get it, even if it is technically perfect.

As any other serious photographer I look for the person, for the joie de vivre, conviviality, humour, the sense of goodness and humanity that one can sense, not least through the eyes of a person.

So instead of cool, give me warm-hearted. Instead of hard, give me soft. Instead of flashy, give me natural light and the quality that does not appear in the first moment but when you look twice. And instead of sexy, give me beauty and sensuality.

I have no interest in doing photography that suits the advertising business. But if some business or corporation would give priority to natural appearance and personality inside the picture, I’d be happy to sell.

Working with Natalia in Basel

This is a kind of introduction to a person you’ll also meet at my photo site in the future – Natalia B, a Russian born in 1988 that I take pictures of. Here is the story, or rather the beginning of it – and a little about why I am fascinated by this type of photography.

I teach peace and conflict resolution at the World Peace Academy in Basel every now and then. I was there last week. I meet so many young people there from all over the world – 30 in the room from about 25 countries…it gives me hope for the future. But we should never say that it is up to the young ones to take over; we should say that it is our duty to make it easy for them to succeed us, rather than leaving behind a world in a mess.

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