Mario Testino's first-ever exhibition in Denmark opened the fashion and art season in Copenhagen this year. 55 pieces of works from the titan of contemporary portraiture reside elegantly in GL Strand's mid-18th century building, designed by Dutch-Danish master Philip de Lange and which has been home to the Kunstforeningen for the last half century.
Testino's aptly named 'No Limits' exhibition delves into the many facets of the photographer's work and his constant quest to stretch his imagination further. In Testino's words, ‘You should use your aesthetics and point of departure for different purposes. You have to break with limitations.' He adds, 'When I first started working, I noticed how some photographers could only work in black and white, some stayed in the studio and others shot solely in colour. We always want to think we can only do one thing; I think that it is way more exciting to do it all and try out everything; and I like to show that you can actually be interested in nudity, in fashion and in royalty.’
Besides exploring the wide spectrum of Testino’s works, the exhibition also focuses on the juxtaposition of the art and the architecture. Each level of the building reveals a different scenography that creates harmony between Testino's photographs and their setting within the space, which is an important and recurrent theme in his works and speaks of the artist's close affinity with both photography and interior design. The show's layout has been arranged as if aligned with the notion that to create a perfect image, one first has to create a world for it. ‘In my work I have to define space every day. For every picture you take, you put a person in a space; and that space has to be designed, decided, approved, in order for that person to inhabit it.’ Testino explains. The show is arranged over three floors: on the first is his powerful and hugely influential oeuvre of fashion photography; on the second his intimate royal portraits; and on third floor his sober nudes.
To complete the architectural and spatial experience, the photographer and his team MARIOTESTINO+ have been working with Ege Carpets to create a site-specific bespoke textile installation on the stairway, enhancing the conversation that builds up from floor to floor. Playing with graphic motifs and typography, the design is a composite of Testino’s maxims over the years.