Swedish Photographer to Speak about Auschwitz at James May Gallery

Örjan Henriksson, an award-winning Swedish photographer, will show his Auschwitz KZ I-II photographs alongside new minimalist landscape paintings by Kyle McKenzie, a Missouri Southern University professor of art, Oct. 3-28 at Algoma’s James May Gallery.

Join the artists at the gallery for an artists’ talk and an intimate preview of the exhibition Oct. 3, 7 pm, before the official opening. (This exhibit involves dark subject matter that may not be suitable for sensitive viewers and young children.) The free opening reception for Henricksson and McKenzie will be Oct. 4, 5:30-8 pm, at the James May Gallery, 213 Steele St. in Algoma.

Henriksson’s works include both fine art and commercial photography. He has studied photography with Arnold Newman and George Tice. His Auschwitz KZ I-II earned the Micael Bindefeld Foundation Prize, which was bestowed by Prince Daniel of the Swedish royal family. The exhibition also includes specially composed music by Pär Gunnarsson and arranged by Örjan Henriksson, who has also had a successful career as a musician. 

The exhibition opened at Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm, then was on tour at several Swedish museums and art galleries.

Henriksson said of the exhibit: “I was exhorted for more than 40 years by my father to learn about the time before the Second World War. This is to recognize the signs of the time, if they would emerge again. [The] seemingly beautiful, black-and-white, tranquil photographs depict a brutal inhumanity [that] became the theme of my work. The suite makes no claim to be documentary – only my personal expressions during the week I spent at Auschwitz camp 1 and 2. My photographs want to portray the emptiness after all those humiliated, tortured and murdered in Auschwitz [had left]. These are no ostentatious images that scream out loud. Instead I let the walls and surfaces depict the total silence that only death leaves behind.”

Henriksson is now working on projects about Bosnia/Srebrenica and the Westfjords in Iceland.

Painting by Kyle McKenzie. 

McKenzie said of his minimalist landscapes: “Through painting, I explore the subtlety and solitude found in often-mundane situations and places. In careful observations of light, shadow and color, I perceive the deceptively complex and beautiful worlds that surround us. These paintings depict the house where I grew up, common family gatherings, patches of ground and stripped-down landscapes. I am drawn to subjects that allow me to ruminate on their subtleties without the intermediaries of direct narrative or symbolism. Through careful and sustained looking, I try to find a fundamental character of the world around me and to reflect that character into the paintings.”