Hamiltons is proud to present ‘Gone Wild’ featuring exclusive, new work by internationally renowned photographer Mario Testino. Shown at the gallery for the first time, the images feature an array of animals; from lions in Kenya to rare birds in Brazil.
This new series contributes to Testino’s ongoing project ‘A Beautiful World’ which explores and documents the cultural traditions of people and the natural world from around the globe, Hamiltons presented the first glimpses of Testino’s ‘A Beautiful World’ in 2019. Whilst Testino has historically been recognised as one of the world’s most in-demand commercial and fashion photographers, his life and career’s real magnum opus is at its genesis.
Dr Jenifer Allen writes “Mario Testino expands the frontiers of wildlife photography. The locations remain remote: from eagles in Mongolia to zebras in Namibia. Yet Testino pushes the borders of this classic genre far beyond simple documentation. His pictures communicate much more than an animal photographed unawares in its natural habitat.
First, Testino brings his sartorial eye to fauna and fowl. Their habitats have been transformed into ideal, curated sets, shifting between nature and imagination. The birds’ feathers recall the singular and extravagant creations of haute couture. Balearica pavonina, Brazil, and Goura cristata, Brazil, 2022 evoke designer millinery. Phasianus colchicus, Brazil, 2022 seem to shimmer in jewel-encrusted coats.
Yet, unlike fashion photographs, these images pit vibrant colours against inky dark backgrounds: gemstones in velvet caskets. Some birds look as if they had stepped out for the evening, only to be captured by paparazzi. The nocturnal surroundings match the birds’; tiny black pupils, thus amplifying the many hues glowing around them.
Testino has always taken a painterly approach to photography, which traditionally relied on speed and light. Yet post-production brings photography closer to painting which can be slow and dark while augmenting polychromatic details. The colours in these photographs have been refined much like a painter’s palette. Rembrandt’s sombreness, Caravaggio’s dramatic sets and Manet’s backgrounds all come to mind, despite Testino’s vastly different subjects.
For Testino, a photograph is not a document but a tool for creating a scenario. For exploring creativity and emotion. What you feel is more important than what species you can identify. If there’s a document here, it’s a chronicle of Testino’s imagination: his own personal AI.“