Gunnar Smoliansky

Gunnar Smoliansky is one of Sweden’s most significant photographers, his career stretching back to the early 1950’s. With a sharp eye for small details, he portrays his close surroundings, the people, and what they leave behind. This autumn his work will be on display in the exhibition Moment – Gunnar Smoliansky at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. We had the pleasure of meeting the photographer for a short interview.

The photos on display in the exhibition is a series of intuitive pictures that Gunnar Smoliansky created in the 1990’s.

– They are not photographs, they are pictures made with this hand, Gunnar says and holds up his right hand.

In the darkroom, he exposed photo papers with white light, dipped his hand in developer and pressed it onto the papers.

– These pictures I made twenty years ago. Since then they have been lying in four Kodak Bromesko boxes on a shelf. Now I think it’s time to show them.

For me it is extremely easy to take pictures, I just go out and do it

The darkroom is very essential in Gunnar Smoliansky’s work, and he’s never left the analogue technique. Almost everyday he spends a couple of hours in there, always printing his photographs himself.

In the beginning of his photographic carrier he built a darkroom in his laundry room.

– I was 17, 18 years old and needed something to do. It suited me well, and since then I’ve just carried on with it.

Gunnar Smoliansky. Photo by Aron Pelcman.
Gunnar Smoliansky. Photo by Aron Pelcman.

Today his darkroom is located on Klippgatan in Södermalm in Stockholm, and it is in this area, as well as in the city centre of Stockholm that he finds most of his motifs.

– As a photographer you constantly seek environments and places where there is possible pictures to be found. What you’re drawn is often connected to what you’re doing, he says.

– I just take the camera and go out in the streets. I rarely have a plan for what I will do, projects are not my thing. For me, it’s extremely easy to take pictures, I just go out and do it. Usually I bring three or four rolls of film. If I find two or three frames on each roll that are worth printing, I’m satisfied.

The exhibition Moments – Gunnar Smoliansky will be on view at Moderna Museet in Stockholm between September 14 and January 12. Read more about it here.

Interview and photos by Aron Pelcman.