Öyvind Fahlström about Ture Sjölander 



"The border between photography and painting is no longer clear, either, and it is easy to understand why this is so. Tinguély, the creator of mobiles, started out by making a form of reliefs with moving parts, powered by a machine placed at the back of them. After a while Tinguély began to wonder why he could not equally well show the play of cog wheels and driving belts at the rear and let "machine" and "shapes" become a united whole.

Similarly, some photographers have asked themselves why the action of light on photo paper and the development baths could not become a creative process comparable with the exposure of a motif — why camera work and darkroom work could not become one.

Among those photographers we find Ture Sjölander. Among those photo graphic artists, as he calls them, who feel dissatisfied with the dialectic of the traditional photographer’s relationship to his motif: when he searches for his motif, he is the sovereign master of it, choosing and rejecting it —. At the very moment that he touches the trigger, he has become enslaved to the motif, without any possibility (other than in terms of light gradation) to do what a painter does — reshape, exclude, and emphasize in the motif.

He may also, like Ture Sjölander, brush, pour, draw etc. on a photo paper — possibly with a background copied on to it — with water, developing or fixing sodium thiosulphite solutions, ferrocyanide of potassium and other liquids. In that case the result is a single, once-only, art work. In this way he is able to achieve a tempered and melting colour scale of white, sepia, ochre, thunder cloud grey, verdigris, silver and possibly also certain blue and red tones.

In this area, however, it seems everything still remains to be done — but one single photographer’s resources are not enough for the experiments to be conducted widely and in depth.


Sweden has recently

inaugurated its first studio of electronic music.


When will photographers and painters be given the opportunity to explore this no-man’s-land between their time-honoured frontlines?


But can photography, in principle, be equal to painting? Is not the glossy, non-handmade character of the photo an obstacle? People have argued in a similar way about enamel work, but that technique is now recognised as totally and completely of a kind with the painted picture. If we adjust the focus of the "conventional painting concept" when we are looking at photo painting, we will perchance discover that in its singular immaterial quality it can possess new and suggestive value."

Öyvind Fahlström

Stockholm, 1961.

Translation from Swedish by Birgitta Sharpe