• Mario Testino
Mario Testino´s personal works on view at Prism Gallery in L.A.


    12 March 2013

    By Katja Schmolka


    Mario Testino celebrates the femininity of women in his photographs like no other. He captivates the viewer, puts them under his spell and forces them to immediately enter a world seen from his own very intimate perspective. Testino creates a world full of realism, surrealism, spontaneous naturalness and satisfaction that is celebrated by his muses such as Kate Moss and Gisele Bündchen. He balances the rare art that is his personal aesthetic with that of the personalities that exist within it - uniting models and stars. The result is a hilarious and erotic imagery, as only he is in a position to create. The photographer has now had almost every star in front of his lens, and is a celebrated celeb in his own right. He glamorously presented a selection of 16 of his most personal shots in the prestigious PRISM Gallery in Los Angeles the evening before the Oscars.

    Mario Testino defined new styles.

    From Heroine Chic to Cocaine Chic. Mario Testino created this look two decades ago. He captured it in his first Gucci campaign in 1995, which caused an international outcry, and brought Gucci back to the fashion tableaux. The old saying “in the right place at the right time” helped Testino to make fashion history. The ingredients: the artsy London and New York in the '90s; Mario Testino's perception of his reality, and his image of femininity – in particular human and approachable forms. Such images were unlike those of his famous colleagues like Newton or Penn, and the French, former Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld, who was then known as a style icon for her classy, feminine 'fetish' looks.

    Everybody wanted him.

    Madonna insisted on Testino for her campaign with the Italian fashion house Versace. Through Princess Diana, who he photographed five months before her death for a charity auction, he became the personal photographer of the Royal Family and remained so to this day. He has over twelve books to his name and has won several photographery awards. Celebrities love him and grant him an incredible amount of trust - as can be seen in his work. This is probably because of his likable quiet charisma that I also felt when I met him at his show in Los Angeles. Like a pillar of strength he stands there, in the middle of the storm between celebs and his many admirers. Aperture on, aperture off. Voila! In our interview, Mario Testino talks about his exhibition, attractive bodies and his inspiration.

    Katja Schmolka: How did you come to you collaborate with Prism Gallery for your new exhibition? How did you choose your work for this exhibit?

    Mario Testino: This was an interesting collaboration as I worked very closely with the gallery and PC Valmorbida on the selection of images, largely all from my personal work as opposed to my fashion work. We had been talking about doing something together for a long time, but this time it just worked and was the right time.
    Katja Schmolka: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a photographer? Was there a certain situation that comes to your mind?

    Mario Testino: Well, I was in London and needed to work or do something and I discovered photography and went to a photography school. I started to capture the people around me with all their different looks and approaches to life, and circumstances they lived in. A very interesting experience for me.
    Katja Schmolka: Were there other photographers you admired at a young age already? And how did they inspire you? Do you collect works of your colleagues?

    Mario Testino: I was inspired by Beaton, Parkinson, Avedon, Newton and Penn. How they created their very own world and language. The wonderful thing is that we are allowed to create our very own world where imagination is free. The more freedom as an artist we have the more creative out put can happen. I started to collect contemporary art about 20 years ago.
    Katja Schmolka: You travel a lot and on your journeys you collect stories. Is there one story, people or tradition you remember that inspired you so much, that you translated it directly into your work?

    Mario Testino: I would say Brazil and the culture of the country. The carnival which expresses the joy of life and sexiness expressed through the costumes worn in a self confident natural way by beautiful women.
    Katja Schmolka: Nudity and sexuality play a major role in your work. What do you love about women? I guess there stands a whole philosophy for you coming from Peru, with all your tradition and culture behind it.

    Mario Testino: I don't think it's so much to do with Peru as to do with simply appreciating and admiring people that are born with amazing bodies. I grew up in Peru and it was very conservative, so in some ways it had an influence, as the freedom one has with their body is quite the opposite to what I was used to growing up.
    Katja Schmolka: Could you tell us a little bit about your own project MATE, which you founded in 2012 in Peru, supporting young artists.

    Mario Testino: I established MATE in 2012 because I wanted to give back to my home country and the best way for me to do that was through culture and the arts. The intention is to promote Peruvian art and culture abroad as well as bring art from overseas to MATE. It will permanently host my own work too.

    Katja Schmolka: Thank you for the interview.

    PRISM - Mario Testino on view until March 30, 2013.


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