These Photographs Are the Melancholic’s Inner World

Solitary humans stand isolated, drowned in dark blue, black and grey tones in Stockholm-based artist Gabriel Isak’s photographs. These modern surrealist images explore profound melancholy and loneliness, a topic in which Gabriel developed an interest because of his own long battle with depression.

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Simultaneously an exploration of the unconscious and an aesthetic presentation of the uncanny and unknowable, Gabriel’s work demands to be carefully observed and digested.

Gabriel got together with us to talk melancholia, technology, and his hopes for spring’s approach to end a long and dark winter.

The Plus: Can you tell us about your process behind some of your photographs? For example, where do you shoot them and how much post-processing is involved?
Gabriel Isak:
I shoot most of my work in Scandinavia and America in locations that are graphic and surreal, such as the dunes or the ocean. Sometimes my photographs are composed using elements from the same location such as adding in a moon in to the photograph or levitating geometric objects that was shot on the same location. My post process normally consists of cleaning up the photograph, smoothing out surfaces and colour grading.

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TP: What fascinates you about blue and black?
GI:
They depict an otherworldly dimension that is dark, melancholic and tranquil. Black represents the unknown to me, something that I explore a lot in my art as well.

TP: Many of your images reflect a sense of loneliness. What’s the intention behind this?
GI:
A lot of my work is inspired by the human’s journey in life, the existence of the soul and the years I battled depression. In my work I want to explore the inner world of solitary figures and shine a light on the experiences of being and the states of mind they bring along. It’s important that the spectator has a conversation with my art and subjects portrayed when viewing it, allowing them to reflect back on their own experiences and journey in life.

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TP: What attracts you to melancholic scenes?
GI:
I faced depression for seven years and began photographing the art I work with today when I came out of the dark world of melancholia. It was something that happened naturally.

And unconsciously, I began to create scenes that all felt like small fragments of what I experienced in the years of living with depression. Melancholia is a central theme in my work and I hope my work will shine light on depression, showing what it can be like to live in its dark and blue world.

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TP: Do you think it’s good for humans to know about unconscious states?
GI:
A lot of my work has been inspired by my unconscious mind and I’ve learned a lot about myself from it. For instance, when I took up photography I realised how much I had suppressed in to my unconscious that naturally arouse to the surface in images that I was creating. It is really interesting to me to explore the unconscious mind and the states it brings along, as I have understood myself better.

TP: What do you enjoy most outside of photography?
GI:
I enjoy running and other outdoor activities, travel, reading, going to the movies or seeing exhibits.

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TP: Surrealism has made a bit of a comeback today. What’s your opinion on art which employs this type of aesthetic language? Why do you think it’s so successful?
GI:
I think it’s a genre that many artists use to explore a dimension not yet known to us, where we can find out more about ourselves and the world beyond this one, and in turn create our own dimension in our work.

To me, it has been one of my favourite art movements due to its original language and the way it allows the artist to explore a personal, otherworldly dimension. That’s something which is relevant in the technology-driven modern world we live in today, where we constantly interact between reality and virtual reality.

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TP: What have you got lined up next?
GI:
I’m currently finishing up a project on existentialism that I hope to exhibit when it is done. Also, I’m working on releasing a book release in the near future and new projects. You can follow me on my Instagram developed for all the latest news and updates.

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