Art review of Mario Testino’s ‘No Limits’

The GL STRAND gallery is currently hosting a major retrospective on the work of Mario Testino, and the tile ‘No Limits’ could not be more appropriate. As one of the greatest living photographers living today, Testino has steadily pushed the boundaries of beauty and fashion during his long and successful career.

Discovering beauty
Beauty is hard to find because it is something that grows within you,” said Testino on May 11 during his press conference ahead of the opening of his exhibition, which will continue until September 18.

His work has appeared worldwide in magazines such as Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair and GQ. Additionally, he has created fashion campaigns for brands like Gucci, Burberry, Versace and Chanel. This is his first exhibition in Denmark.

Fashion and portraits
The three floors at GL STRAND provide a deep insight into the different themes present in Testino’s work.

The first floor shows fashion and iconic portraiture, commissions that originally appeared as fashion editorials, campaigns for brands and portraits for articles.

“I realised a long time ago that in true photography you have two choices: you do a picture for you or you do a picture for the person you are photographing. I chose the latter,” explained Testino. “I put the people I photograph in the best light they can exist.”

Amongst the subjects of the photographs are high-profile models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, long-term collaborators of Testino’s.

The royal effect
The second floor enters the world of royal portraiture and high fashion shoots.

In 1997, Mario Testino photographed Diana, Princess of Wales, for Vanity Fair.

“When I was thinking how to do the photos, I had this thought: how do I want to see this lady? Like a princess and look up to her, or as my friend sitting next to me?” revealed the photographer.

In these renowned photos he captured the intense beauty and complex existence of Diana in an intimate setting. “The image is what your mind imagines,” he observed. “Perception is the most amazing thing.”

This commission opened a door for Testino, as he then started to extensively portrait royal families. The exhibition also include shots of the official engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton and the christening of their daughter Princess Charlotte.

The exhibition presents formal portraits of Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik as well as unseen images of the royal couple.

“The young royals have a lot in common, because many of them come from  real life,” said Testino, “So it is a mixture of cultures and backgrounds. The wives are really responsible, hard working women. They take their work very seriously.”

The nude study
The last floor mainly contains nudes. The bodies of the likes of Claudia Schiffer and Natalia Vodianova inspire Testino to explore the juxtaposition of skin, textiles and other objects and light, while mixing classical art and fashion photography.

The third floor also hosts the Art Cinema room, where ‘TESTINO’, a short film produced by Harbers Studios, is shown on a loop. Here the photographer, in conversation with filmmaker Jesse Dylan, talks about his art, famous subjects, and life pushed beyond boundaries.

Mario Testino during the press conference at GL Strand (photo: Alessandra Palmitesta)
Mario Testino during the press conference at GL STRAND (photo: Alessandra Palmitesta)