Artist + Designer Spotlight: Tommy Kwak

June 9, 2014 | Alex

If you read Rue Magazine's story on our "bachelor pad" project, you may have noticed a striking triptych in the living room. The piece is by photographer (and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn local) Tommy Kwak, part of a series of photographs he took while participating in SÍM Residency program in Reykjavik, Iceland, and international arts festival, Villa Reykjavik.

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I first discovered Kwak's work on Artsicle. Our client, a photography enthusiast, had a solid collection of work for us to hang on the walls of his rental apartment, but none of the dimensions were quite right for above the sofa. The white expanse of wall called for something short and wide. We also aimed to stay within the room's RGBY palette and introduce a subtle abstract quality. (I'm a staunch advocate for a mixed media component to an art collection, but the client is a photography loyalist. We compromised on a piece with a painterly quality.) Artsicle's rental program, with a 3 month minimum, allowed us to bring a piece into the client's space so that he could live with it. Essentially, test drive for art.

After securing Marsh (Laugarvatn, Iceland) for our client, I fell deep into a rabbit hole of Kwak's body of work. In his artist's bio, he describes his work as an exploration of absence and the unknown in natural phenomena. Kwak's images of Iceland capture the raw, and slightly fierce, quality of that country's natural beauty. The northern chill is palpable. You can feel the damp fog in his misty images of Laugarvatn and Reykjavik. Likewise, his scenes of Sweden play with the theme of sunlight in the scandinavian summer, streaks of neon sun-spots marring the forest scenes. (Many of Kwak's photograph's from the series were taken in and around Abisko, the northern Swedish town where I will end my 65-mile trek in August.)

I so enjoy getting lost in these photographs. They have a milky, dreamy feeling-- but it's contrasted with a sharp technical focus on certain features of the landscape. Here are a few favorites that reflect the most compelling qualities in Kwak's work:



  1. Tree 4 (Abisko, Sweden), 2013

  2. Mountain (Mývatn, Iceland), 2008

  3. Reykjavík, Iceland, 2008

  4. Fog 1 (Laugarvatn, Iceland), 2011

  5. Icebergs (Jökulsárlón, Iceland), 2009

  6. Glacier (Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland), 2010

Top photographs are Hrafnarbjargafoss, Iceland, 2011, and Marsh (Laugarvatn, Iceland), 2011. 

All images via Kwak's work is also available for purchase or monthly rental via Artsicle, with a 3 month minimum.