18th October 2021

Mario Testino Unfiltered

One of the world's most iconic fashion photographers puts his first exhibition in years. By Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh

On Friday the 1st of October, 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS opened the first Mario Testino exhibition to be conceived of and realised in Italy: Mario Testino: Unfiltered.  Featuring a world exclusive collection, the exhibition contains both unpublished work and work never before experienced in a gallery setting alongside images of the mythical artist in front of and behind the camera.  “It’s wonderful to have the chance to get to know the more authentic side of an artist of such talent,” declared 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS co-founders and co-directors Eugenio Calini and Luca Casulli.  As co-curators of Unfiltered alongside Testino himself, Calini and Casulli have worked closely with the photographer to mount his first solo show since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: Vicente de Paulo

Whereas 2019’s Mario Testino: East paid homage to the artist’s first ever solo show in Japan, Unfiltered offers a dedication to the European peninsula heavily featured in Testino’s life.  “Discovering Italy was a powerful experience that has captured my imagination,” wrote Testino for his 2020 artbook Ciao.  “I loved the people, the landscape, the architecture and how art and beauty were such a casual, natural part of life”.  Through Testino’s lens, Ciao offered a highly personal journey over 40 years, celebrating not only Italian architecture and fashion but also lifestyle, culture and history.  Yet as Italy’s death toll rose to numbers unseen since World War II, the book’s publication succumbed to a landscape divided and isolated.

Joan Smalls and Raquel Zimmermann.  Rome, American Vogue, 2012

Testino’s physical return offers a triumphant hosanna in honour of a post-pandemic Italy.  The exhibition is on now at 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS, a contemporary art gallery specialising in fashion and portrait photography only a stone’s throw away from Milan’s historical Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio.  Ciao’s legacy is highlighted, with the exhibition containing a selection of works from the book, including a newly realised form of the cover art featuring Eva Herzigová photographed in Rome for Vogue Paris. 

Carmen Kass. Los Angeles, Allure, 2009

“I usually try to make my images look like they just exist”, Testino once said and, for Unfiltered, movement proves paramount.  Photography’s static materiality is disavowed in shots pulsing with potential energy and their  evolution explored in new editions of iconic images. No photo, Testino seems to say, can be trapped in the confines of one print in one city at one time.  Affirmed by a rotating exhibition structure, Mario Testino: Unfiltered is a tribute to a regenerating Italy and an ever changing world.

Photo: Vicente de Paulo


To learn more about the Mario Testino: Unfiltered exhibition, click here.


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