Peter Wiklund: Mankind and everything after

I first encountered Peter Wiklund's work in a juried pinhole photography show at RayKo Photo Center perhaps six years ago. The imagery was everything that a pinhole camera can do and more. Distort and bend and turn surreal even the most simple of subjects. And there was Peter, or rather, I wouldn't know they were self-portraits until later, so rather, there was a man, naked in a barren landscape, trees dead with winter or the apocalypse, the man bent and curled in the stark scene, sometimes seeming to struggle, sometimes strong and powerful. I didn't know him or what was happening, but this series, "Mankind," was pinhole perfection. Even the simplest image, a hand on the ground in front of the camera, turned into an otherworldly being, unrecognizable as human. Fantastic, I thought, just fantastic and strange and unsettling enough to make it worth sending across the Atlantic for this show.

Now the thing Peter Wiklund didn't know, is that I lived in Sweden years before and return nearly every year to visit my friends and soak in the long days of summer in the far north. And the thing neither of us could know, is that he's practically neighbors with my best friend there. So instead of shipping his images from Mankind back to Sweden from San Francisco, I hopped on a plane with them and met him in person to see the rest of this marvelous portfolio. The world is that small.

Of course, Wiklund had more than magical pinhole camera pictures. He had lots of alternative camera images. Photographs made from toy cameras and plastic cameras and crappy cameras and homemade cameras. So many images, all surreal, except those that were so beautiful, they squeezed my heart: a man's bare and also translucent back to us, the figure leaning on the edge of a window at dawn, head cowed, the color of the light so soft and muted, a color that only exists for a moment and then is gone. Another of a sheer curtain just obscuring a distant line of trees, a landscape that is ours, almost, but not quite. These are just two of many images I would exhibit in the future at my gallery.

I am lucky in that he enters the competitions that I jury, so I get to see what's unfolding on the other side of the world in Wiklund's creative and unstoppable mind. Both in pinhole exhibitions and other alternative camera shows. This year, he entered 10 new images I've never seen into RayKo's upcoming toy camera show. This time, the figures in the photographs weren't self-portraits, but statues photographed with a tenderness and an intimacy that make them seem real and human. A couple embracing as they move across the multiple lens frame of a Lomo Super Sampler camera. Another profile of the softest face, the backing of the 120 paper exposing onto the film in some other plastic camera full of light leaks. But here, in both these instances, the subjects are stone, not flesh. They are breathtaking.

It may be time for another crossing to Scandinavia to see Peter Wiklund's latest series in person. Until then, I am thrilled to have three of his images in RayKo's 10th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show that opens on March 1, 2017. Worth the journey for certain.

Peter Wiklund from Sweden started with photography in the mid 80's and has ever since experimented with a lot of techniques and cameras.

Nowadays, he mainly uses different plastic and pinhole cameras. These tools add a moment of chance into his photography, something that is very important to him. There are lots of beautiful mistakes that can happen, that can add a sort of genuineness to the images.

Wiklund use film, obviously, and sometimes make his own prints. He has used alternative techniques like cyanotype and photopolymer gravure, which can enhance the expression even further. But then again, a digital print can be very nice as well.

  All about Peter Wiklund
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