Arts & Culture

Arts Of The Week: Gabriel Isak’s The Shadow & The Self Series

September 25, 2016

Introducing Gabriel Isak, a young Swedish photographer making his mark in the world with fascinating surreal conceptual photography.

About The Artist

Gabriel Isak started his photographic journey a few years back in San Francisco. Often using himself as the subject, he started documenting life around him. With a compact camera given by his father.

Photography slowly become a significant medium of Gabriel Isak’s personal growth and expression of self. His works are greatly influenced by surrealism, the subconscious and psychology. He sees his works as a symbolic abstraction of human emotions, and develops a signature style that is serene yet melancholic.

Often describing his work as a metaphor for experiences of the soul, Gabriel Isak’s main goal is to encourage critical and reflective engagement that is subjective to viewers’ personal experiences through his reflective images.


The Shadow & The Self Series

The Shadow & The Self is a series of photograph portaying Gabriel Isak’s own experiences. It is a project that was very personal to the photographer at that time. Its inspiration comes from a quote by Carl Jung.


Driven by the combination of minimalism and colour manipulation, it is easy to value The Shadow & The Self solely on its pleasing aesthetics. However, unfolding its complex emotions and appreciating its beauty would require less viewing and more feeling.

I don’t blame you, though. I get it. Who wouldn’t love the icy color palette, right? I was so drawn into its paradoxically bright, clean and soothing photographs myself. I almost missed the point. Good thing my eyes find the grey, black, cool blue and brown undertones perfectly highlighting and contrasting the dark mood in the series – just in time to guide me back to the right track.

If that’s what happened to you too, then Gabriel Isak has been successful. He uses minimalism to create space for viewers to explore various depth of emotions. Meanwhile the bright colour background places greater focus on the symbolic representations and emotions. It helps lighten up the mood, too.

In my case, the blend generates enough reflective triggers to analyse, relate and empathise to the presented experiences. Just like what the young Swedish photographer has intended. It’s even more enjoyable as I always have a thing for surreal, and serene yet melancholic images. And this one in particular, tells a story like no other.

Tip: Enjoy the photographs in sequence.

'The Shadow and the Self' 'The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self' 'The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self''The Shadow and the Self'

Photo Credit: Gabriel Isak

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