Imagine All The Photographs

Surreal photography at the Swedish Institute

By: Sylvia Rani


A man shears a sheep. As he cuts away at its wool, the tufts float toward the sky and become fluffy cumulus clouds.



A woman and child stare at the ominous rain clouds above them as a school of fish darts through the sky.


A girl with a suitcase walks down a lonely path toward the sun. With each step she takes, the road crumbles to dust behind her.


Such are the works of Eric Johansson, a Swedish-born surreal artist who combines photographs and drawings using image manipulation software to create dreamlike pictures of a reimagined world. The Prague-based artist is often described as self-made as he had no formal training in photography or digital imaging processing, yet his digitally rendered masterpieces are adored worldwide.


Johansson’s mind-bending photographs showcase both his limitless imagination and meticulous attention to detail. He toys with the fabric of reality by using images that defy the natural laws of physics while also appearing strikingly realistic. In Johansson’s world, roads tear in half like tissue paper, serene water transforms into glass shards, and reflections become reality. What makes these photographs so enjoyable to look at is that most of them appear pretty normal at first. Upon closer inspection, however, the viewer realizes that something is wrong. The laws of nature are broken, and the unbridled imagination of the subconscious mind is activated, leaving the viewer feeling lost in a nostalgic dream.


“Imagine: Surreal Photography” by Erik Johansson will be on display at the American Swedish Institute through April 28. Admission is $6 with a student ID.

Wake Mag