Dubai debut: Mario Testino's first Middle Eastern exhibition

Dubai debut: Mario Testino's first Middle Eastern exhibition


Text: Chloe Allan

Image: Vikram Gawde

Welcome to the exclusive sneak peek of Mario Testino's first ever Middle Eastern exhibtion, HEAT. Buro 24/7 Middle East sat down with the man himself to discuss Dubai, the key to his success and his friendship with Kate Moss...

H e's one of the world's most influential photographers, his work has graced nearly every glossy magazine in the industry,  he's snapped the most beautiful women and most powerful men in the world and he's created the most iconic and recognisable photographs of our time. Now, Mr. Mario Testino brings a life time of images — some old, some new and some never seen before — to decorate Dubai with his first ever Middle Eastern exhibtion, HEAT.  

Heat By Mario Testino Dubai

"Dubai is simply incredible," says Mario Testino as he sits sharply infront of a beautifully lit backdrop of his life-sized portraits, which are now in Dubai. "Look at the opportunity I have been given. I met Khaled AlMheiri, Chairman of Ginza Group back in June 2015 and now I have an exhibtion here..." 

I think that in itself represents what Dubai can bring — possibilities!

Along with Simon and Michela de Pury, the curators behind HEAT, Dubai's Design District (d3) is the chosen loaction for the region to display Testino's work. 

Heat By Mario Testino Dubai

Within the walls of the pop-up gallery, Lady Gaga, Sir Elton John, Brad Pitt and Naomi Campbell make an inspiring impact. Yet, as Testino says: "The photograph doesn't only belong to me. It belongs to the person in that picture. My job is to make them feel at their most powerful. I will always portray that person in the best possible way and what you see in my photos is my opinion of that." And his opinion of Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne? "Everytime I work with Kate, she makes me look at something in a completely new way," says Testino. "She's curious, she's hungry and she wants to live and that's something I feel is very precious." Cara is clearly a favourite among Mario's models too. "Cara is a rebel and I like that. I'm very inspired by the younger models of today: Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne. Youth is taking over and I'd love to bring those girls back to Dubai with me, they're who I feel would represent the life of this city."

Heat By Mario Testino Dubai

We quickly move on to the background of Mario Testino. Where is he from? Where did it all begin? "Peru is my home, my roots and I often travel back there for inspiration. You must always look back in order to look forward.And how does he know when he has taken the perfect picture? "Light is the most important thing as a photographer. You need to know what you want to achieve, wether that be compositions, emotion or colour — you never truly know when you've got the perfect picture but you will feel a magical moment."

Heat By Mario Testino Dubai

The power of social media was a topic that was excitingly discussed too. Instagram is the most visually driven platform of expression and as a photographer Testino went on to explain why he loves it so much. "I get alot of cristicism from other photographers for having an Instagram account but I like the idea of sharing my work with the world. I like that I get the final say. I decide what to put out there and when and Instagram is fabulous. It's an amazing possibility that we have today." 

As things start to wrap up, Mario's funny and positive personality shines through and it becomes instantly clear why he's one of the most-adored photographers in the industry. "If I wasn't a photographer I would be a performer," expresses Testino. "Infact, I would just love to burst out in song to you now. I'm one of those very annoying people that wakes up singing and happy. That's how I will always arrive on every shoot."

HEAT is now open at Dubai Design District, d3 and will remian on exhibition until April 15 2016.