A posthumous dialogue: Testino and van der Elsken at Annet Gelink Gallery

Black and white self portrait image of Mario Testino, sat looking in a mirror, camera in hand taking his own picture
Mario Testino compares his own work to one of his photographic inspirations, Ed van der Elsken, in an intimate new joint exhibition. Pictured: Self Portrait, by Mario Testino, 2000
(Image credit: TBC)

Mario Testino and Ed van der Elsken come from different backgrounds – different continents – and are of different eras. They found renown in different photographic fields. Yet there is something similar in the approach to their work that suggests kindred spirits.

Testino has been an admirer of van der Elsken since the 1980s, and earlier this year MATE (Museo Mario Testino) in Lima, Peru, put the late enfant terrible of Dutch photography centre stage with a show entitled 'Sin Censura' ('Uncensored'), the second exhibition in the museum's annual series, 'Maestros de la Fotographia' ('Masters of Photography').

‘When you are trained as a photographer, you are often told to look for perfection – but in Ed's work I discovered the opposite,’ Testino explains. ‘Photography can be anything; good images exist because you create an emotion and you see something other people don't see, and you put it out there. I notice a lot of my work is like that.’

For Testino, a photograph exists as much to capture a moment in time as to demonstrate high art. ‘We are both curious about many things that are just there – maybe not the most perfect thing or the thing most sought after by society, but something that just caught our eye. And we are the people who can make others look differently, and maybe change their perception of things,’ he adds.

The idea of 'Me and You' developed from the MATE exploration. For this new exhibition, Testino chose images from his ouevre that had never before been exhibited, and likewise selected lesser-known photographs from the van der Elsken Archive of Amsterdam's Annet Gelink Gallery. The juxtaposition of the two photographers’ works suggesting a posthumous dialogue.

The exhibition is also a rare opportunity to see Testino's work in such an intimate situation. The exhibits have been brought directly from his immense archive in London and are personal works created with no specific purpose (in contrast to his fashion commissioned works, with which we are more familiar). It is refreshing to see a more private, unofficial manifestation of Testino's marvellous artistic soul.

Daytime image, park, green grass, tall leafy trees, man and woman's legs can be seen lay on the ground just around the base of the first tree in shot, black and grey rucksack style bag on the floor to the right

Drottningholm Palace, Sweden, by Mario Testino, 2002

(Image credit: TBC)

Dior Paris, 1997, two female topless models, wearing underwear and black spotted tights, white wall, white chair arm

A Testino shot of Stella Tennant And Kristen McMenamy at Dior, Paris, 1997 – displaying an intimate, behind-the-curtain peek at the fashion industry

(Image credit: TBC)

Dam, by Ed van der Elsken, 1975, daytime, street image, white car with female driving, no entry signs, stone building across the road, man wearing pink jacket, red trousers and white t-shirt, lighting a cigarette carrying a white plastic big, bicycles leant against the building, two adults and small child gathered near mounted police horses in the distance

The work of Ed van der Elsken helped usher in a style of photography that is less concerned with traditional style and compositions. Pictured: Dam, by Ed van der Elsken, 1975

(Image credit: TBC)

Left image: Black and white daytime image of two girls in sixties dress, brick paved square, buildings and people in the back drop, shrubs in planters to the far centre, persons arm in a white coat to the left of the shot Right image: Colour self portrait of Ed van der Elsken, pointing a camera t himself holding a black and white picture of three women dressed in sixties clothing, hairstyke and make up with two male photographers taking pictures from behind them

The photograph pictured left is one of a number taken when van der Elsken saw two two strikingly dressed young women in Dam Square, Amsterdam, following them to capture his shots. Pictured left: Dam, by Ed van der Elsken, 1966. Right: Self Portrait

(Image credit: Ed van der Elsken)


'Me and You' is on view until 5 March 2016. For more information, visit Annet Gelink Gallery's website


Annet Gelink Gallery
Laurierstraat 189
1016 PL Amsterdam


Yoko Choy is the China editor at Wallpaper* magazine, where she has contributed for over a decade. Her work has also been featured in numerous Chinese and international publications. As a creative and communications consultant, Yoko has worked with renowned institutions such as Art Basel and Beijing Design Week, as well as brands such as Hermès and Assouline. With dual bases in Hong Kong and Amsterdam, Yoko is an active participant in design awards judging panels and conferences, where she shares her mission of promoting cross-cultural exchange and translating insights from both the Eastern and Western worlds into a common creative language. Yoko is currently working on several exciting projects, including a sustainable lifestyle concept and a book on Chinese contemporary design.