Icelandic Ragnar Axelsson (1958), more commonly known as RAX, is renowned as a highly talented nature- and documentary photo-grapher. Since starting out as a photojournalist at Iceland’s biggest newspaper, Morgunbladid in 1976, he has spent over 30 years hunting motifs in extreme landscapes around the world. Breath-taking images shot in locations such as Island, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Scandinavia, Indonesia and Siberia have been printed worldwide in magazines including Life, National Geographic, Le Figaro, Stern, La Vanguardia and Time. His photographs capture the wilderness in the worn faces of farmers, lonesome hunters, intrepid fishermen; spirits wrestling the elements to survive, as he expertly documents the vanishing lifestyles of various Arctic communities.
Luminary RAX has a deep passion for the Arctic, having made several visits to both the north and south poles. His documentary film, Last Days of The Arctic, narrates the portraits that appear in his books: Last Days of The Arctic and Faces of the North. For decades, places like Greenland have enticed him back to their icy arms, where he spends weeks trekking glaciers with Inuit hunters and their fearless sled dogs. Ragnar follows men like Masauna, dubbed “The King of Thule”, whose instincts run so deep that he can step onto a sheet of ice and literally smell a whale lingering unseen in the depths below, before harpooning it from his kayak. The moment captured by Rax’s camera. In his film, Rax explains how all communication with the locals took place through looks and gestures. Joking together with these huntsmen, he slowly perceived nature as they did and could see in their eyes the moment they accepted him as one of their own.
RAX revels in the challenges imposed, working in such extreme sub-zero conditions, with his equipment often freezing and his vision impaired through tears brought on by icy winds. His reward being able to look through his photographs after such a trip and find images that were successful.
RAX’s work has been extensively published and featured in numerous books, notably the two previously mentioned and his latest Behind the Mountains which was released in October last year He has won over 20 awards and exhibited in galleries and exhibitions worldwide including Visa pour l’Image in 2000 and Les Recontres d’Arles in 2001. His most recent work was on display at London’s Proud Gallery in 2012.