- Artist: Tom Sandberg
- Creation date: 1993
- Object type: Photograph
Tom Sandberg began taking photos at an early age and came into contact with photographers such as the Americans Robert Robinson and Dan Yong, who along with Arild Kristo founded the Manité group in Norway. During the 1970s Sandberg trained in England and the United States under photographers such as Thomas J. Cooper, Paul Hill, and Minor White. Sandberg became an important exponent of the so-called England generation in Norwegian photography. From the late 1970s he exhibited his photographs in leading galleries and museums in Norway and abroad. He was the first photographer whose works were acquired for the Museum of Contemporary Art’s collections in 1989, and he is represented in several European and American art collections.
Inspired by the contrast-rich black-and-white photography of the 1960s, Sandberg developed an abstracted style featuring urban images that emphasized darker shades of grey. However, he is best-known for his monumental portraits of musicians from the 1980s. At the “Splint” exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo in 1991, Sandberg displayed portraits and abstracted imagery from 1985 to 1991, including this bipartite portrait of the Nigerian author Ben Okri. The left-hand part is an abstraction of an urban image, namely the reflection of water on asphalt in greyish hues. The righthand part shows Okri in profile in what almost seems like a silhouette, thanks to the dark hues and shadowy areas. The photographs are characterized by greyscale shades that tend toward blackness, with very few patches of lighter grey. Despite the close-up depiction of the subject, the purpose has not been to depict Okri as realistically as possible, but rather to accentuate a subjective vantage point.