Jamel with a pearl earring

This post is about the pastiche I’ve made on Johannes Vermeer’s iconic painting from around 1665 of a Girl With The Pearl Earring. There is both an interesting discussion about how it was – perhaps – painted and a movie inspired by the painting.


And there is a discussion, of course, about who the girl is, or could have been – nobody seems to know. Was it Vermeer’s daughter Maria – who was likely also a gifted painter – was it a maid in the house, a lover, or both?

It is a pastiche – defined by Wikipedia as “a work of visual art, literature, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates.” So it neither reproduces in details, nor satirizes. It’s an inspiration, perhaps an homage and it is, above all, eclectic – using elements known from here and there and putting them together but, simultaneously, offering the viewer something that has references to another work of art. It borrows freely and can be see also as a hodgepodge.

It is a challenge you set yourself. Jamel, the girl in this series, is from Uganda and one of my students in a master’s course on peace at Basel University. She is also a business woman, interested in art and handicraft and runs a shop in Kampala. And she is also very good at acting in front of a camera. I chose her for exactly these – eclectic! – reasons and because she obviously thought it was fun to try something like this. I too have never done something “staged” like this before.

Continue reading

Photography as photography and not as representation

Most visitors to my studio ask questions such as – Where was that taken? Is that really a photograph? Who is that person, or where is she from? How did you take it? etc. I’ve even heard people asking, when looking at a complete abstraction of some trees, Where did you see these trees?

All these questions reveal a – perhaps unrecognized – assumption, namely that photography is about representing something in the known or perceived world, of something I can relate to because “I have also been there” or “I like trees too” or “this reminds me of a holiday we were on where I also took some photos like this…”

What does this tell?

Let’s notice that the same comments would not come up if they had been to a gallery or museum and enjoyed oil paintings. You don’t look at Monet’s lillies, Kelly’s geometric figures, Johns’ flags or Pollock’s paintings and ask questions such as those above. There is an implicit assumption that the painting is a painting in and of itself and that it can be even abstract or painted in a style in which it distances itself from some kind of real world objects. The painting is permitted to be a reality of its own, the photograph is supposed to be representational. Well, not always, but often.

In the first years when visitors asked me questions of the above type, I easily jumped in and answered something like Continue reading

On Google+ from January 2014

Happy new photo and art year 2014!
I’ve found that Facebook is becoming too expensive, attempting to squeeze money out of you.
Say that some months ago you posted a link and it would be seen “organizally” by 400- 500 people on their feeds (if there was a photo, perhaps more). Over the last few months, this organic reach on Facebook has gone down to about half of that, or less.
I suppose Zuckerberg and Co.’s idea is that we shall pay for the difference – “promote” our post by paying 5, 10 or more dollars. That add up over the years…
In addition, I must say that Facebook’s compression of photos leaves a lot to be desired. Many have seen it when they upload their timeline photo and it is blurred and losing its crisp quality.
Here is one of my first experimental photos of 2014
Western Geisha 2011 © Jan Oberg 2013

Western Geisha 2011 © Jan Oberg 2013

I could add that it is difficult also to make any sales from a Facebook photo page, no matter how many links you make back to your homepage with interesting materials. But that is not the essential argument; for me it is the diminishing organic reach and the low image quality on Facebook that has bothered me for some time.

So, in 2013 I opened up on Pinterest and this year I have begun to learn and use Google+. I’ve got a page in English with a lot of international stuff and my own international production and a a page in Nordic languages that touches also upon the cultural life of Lund where I live – or the lack of it.
One of several articles on the Internet that persuaded me was this multi-dimensional argument by Colby Brown, a brilliant professional photographer.
I like the idea of better compression, photos appear amazingly crisp on Google+. I also like the idea of differentiated circles of people you relate to and how one can relate to each other and share interests without imposing oneself.
The layout of a Goggle+ page is much more elegant and pleasantly minimalistic than Facebook’s anything but elegant design. And, not the least, Google+ is open in a way, Facebook is not. Public materials reach Google’s search engine and has a potentially wide reach outside the Goggle+ community – which is not the case with what you post on Facebook (except that you are there yourself, but not your photo page).
Overall, it seems to me also that Google+ is more interest-based and “serious” – which Facebook can also be but certainly isn’t overall. The response of Likes etc is pretty superficial.
Whatever argument one can bring up, one must be open to the possibilities of the social media – to strengthen both the common interests in the profession but, of course, also to reach potential clients out there.
It’s been quite some time back I found out that one cannot base a photo activity – or even having the costs covered – by friends, family and a few interested people in the local community.  They can be great as your art critics and as a springboard for a much wider marketing efforts in our globalized world.
So let’s meet at Google+ Oberg PhotoGraphics – and build some circles together!

Konstkvällen i Lund 19 oktober 2013

Bara en månad efter Kulturnatten 21 september kommer nu Konstkvällen, som alltid infaller på tredje lördagen i oktober. I år har 19 museer och gallerier mm öppet 17-22. Öberg FotoGrafik är den tjugonde.

Toji Temple Flee Market, Kyoto 2010 © Jan Öberg

Toji Temple Flee Market, Kyoto 2010 © Jan Öberg

Jag var riktigt nöjd med Kulturnatten – kring 60 kom även om min lilla studio ligger längst borta från centrum. Allt jag visade var nytt och det är (med vissa undantag) samma foton jag visar nu på Konstkvällen – “klassiskt” svart-vita som ovan, photo paintings som nedan, foton från Iran, Lund och Skåne samt några porträtt – tryckta på papper, canvas och metall.

Och sedan blir det debatt om Lunds kulturliv (se nedan).

Här har du programmet för all 20 platser

Om Öberg FotoGrafik står det:

Vegagatan 25

Foto är inte vad det har varit – Nya bilder på olika media. Öberg FotoGrafik är ett galleri för experimentell fotografi. Galleriet drivs av Jan Öberg som är fredsforskare och konstfotograf. Öberg utforskar om det finns något som kan kallas fredsfotografi som alternativ till vår världs oändligt många bilder av våldet.
Kl 18 och 21:
Välkommen att delta i en kort debatt: “Lund – Hightech oas och kulturell öken?”
Samt presentation av en ny blogg – öppen för allmänheten – kring denna fråga.

Backåkra Tree Group 2013 © Jan Oberg 2013

Backåkra Tree Group 2013 © Jan Oberg 2013


A peep into my photo studio

WELCOME to Oberg PhotoGraphics studio !
A quick “guided tour” – some impressions of what I do and how I do art photography.
So many who can’t come to Lund, Sweden, have asked me to make such a simple video.
I appreciate each and every comment you have!

© Jan Oberg 2013

Nya bloggen “KulturlivLund” öppnar senare i veckan

Texten nedan postades i dag på Facebook-gruppen “Lunds Konst och Kultur”

Lite goda nyheter:

1) Alla inlägg på denna sida sedan starten kommer senare i veckan att presenteras på en ny blogg. Den har länkar, bilder, sökmotor, “tags” och blir mycket lättare att skriva på för alla. Denna sida stängas ned någon vecka senare.

Lund behöver inspiration från alla världshörn och ge tillbaka någonting till dom

Lund behöver inspiration från alla världshörn och ge tillbaka någonting till dom

2) Ni som är med här kommer naturligtvis att kunna skriva inlägg men – och det är viktigt – den blir öppen för vem som helst och inte bara Lundabor eller Facebook-människor.  Continue reading

Warhol auction hysteria and collector vanity

This is the art world gone mad and this is a comment with just a little irony!

Up to USD 227 000 for a work not even signed by Warhol - and no edition size mentioned!

In addition it is an utterly simplifying, uninventive, reductionist and boring piece. What’s was your point, Andy?

“The Scream” was far from one of Munch’s best works and here is a fast kind of “copy” adding nothing of value – more or less turning it into a Warhol-style piece: Andy Munch aka Edward Warhol. There you go.


SCREAM (AFTER MUNCH) – Photo from Sotheby’s catalogue on the link.

Wherever Andy is, he must be laughing at how easy it is to fool people who don’t know better. The disease may well be called collector vanity. Whatever we call it, fact is that the emperor is stark naked.

If you permit me – my “after Munch” is much better! How much will you pay when I tell you that it is signed by me, in a limited and numbered edition, roughtly the same size, printed on Canson fine art paper and you get a authentication document with it!

My price is US $ 600 (unframed like Warhol’s).

On a more serious note…


© Jan Oberg 2012

…who can do what to save the art “market” from its own worst enemies? The enemy here is not Warhol but the dealers, collectors, reproducers, auction houses, investors (with no interest as such in art), the consultants who tell art ignorants where they should gamble to make a profit and…the perverse times we live in when there is no longer a necessary connection between quality/work effort and price, where everything is a commodity and the rest is hype and marketing…