In the touristic quarter of Old Montreal, in an area coveted by artists, a dark gallery covered with jarring colors seduces the eye. It’s a Fine Art photography gallery where flora and fauna are delivered in all their raw, stunning colorful beauty. The following is an encounter with the artist MALTESTE, who captures these colors at source.
During your thirty years practicing photography, what stages of personal growth have you passed through in order to arrive at such a beautiful gallery?
Thank you for your appreciation. I have always been driven to find the rare images that I now show in my gallery. Ever since, before I began walking, I was already showing signs of artistic gifts through my drawings. I began doing traditional black and white photography in 1984. I learned all the steps and photographic techniques before I started digital photography in 2008. During all those years, my adult life was already marked out by professional experience in 3D design, international sales and Fine art.
Another event that marked me significantly was the death of my mother in 1991 at 49 from cancer. She was the only person who encouraged me in my artistic vision and she would certainly be very proud and happy today to know that I am giving my all to my talent; the vision that has always driven me to look deeper than the eye can see. To capture the rare, the beauty of being and the emotion of the moment; CARPE DIEM.
Would you say that your photographs are a response to an inner search – a spiritual vision?
Certainly. I often had the feeling of living in a superficial world that was cold, governed by cynicism and sarcasm, as if many people had lost contact with what I call the beauty of living the present moment; a richer form of existence. For me photography is about capturing an elusive immediate truth. I know how to find the feelings that resonate within each photograph and it’s important with my work, to look, feel, capture and share certain emotions and beauty with as many people as possible.
Do you consider that capturing an image is a creative process?
Perfectly! In the minds of many people, taking a photo consists simply of framing the image and pressing a button. Just like a poor violinist who plays just as badly with a Stradivarius worth millions of dollars. A person has to have an artistic sense to produce moving photographs that tell a story. I truly believe it’s not the instrument that produces the art but the vision, the virtuosity and expertise of the user. For my photographs to be artistic everything counts; the exact & accurate moment of the day, the ambient light, the chosen scene, the framing to the closest millimeter, the optics & neutral filters to use, the impact of the chosen light, and of course, my subconscious feelings. The exposure time is also an important part to the magic of the creation. It can take anywhere from milliseconds to hours.
All of these many important details form my creative art process produce a form of unique photography vision that the human eye cannot capture alone. Clients say they feel calm and serene when looking at my work, and sense these are not mere photographs, but also an art form, just like painting.
Do you think you can capture the deeper order that nourishes our inner beauty?
Yes, one can effectively say that the call to see is with the eyes of the heart. My photographs remind us that in a world that moves so quickly, there exists another time, which is there for observing. This time, which moves much more slowly, almost imperceptibly, is what I call the sublime. For me, to be touched by the sublime, is the absolute experience, which in an instant, make us realize the beauty of the moment, which gives us the ability to be moved and be reborn like a child with the capacity for wonder and interior richness.
In all honesty, the first time I saw your work, I thought it was a superb job of retouching and transforming of reality. I never would have thought for a minute that one could find in nature such blues, purples and incandescent yellows, all the nuances of green etc. One day, in your gallery, you told me: zero retouching, these colors are the colors of nature that I photographed! I want to ask you again – do these colors really exist in nature?
Yes, and more! Thanks to a large Plexiglas panel showing seven photographs of the same landscape taken one morning at short intervals, I can demonstrate this to people who visit my gallery. It’s the best example to visually explain that the most beautiful colors and finest contrasts appear within less than a minute in the evening and the morning; to work with this light, at that very accurate moment, seizing the invisible with the judicious use of exposure-time and light. Also, I work with a 35mm digital professional camera that I have configured to produce raw files that have the quality of traditional slides film like the Velvia 50.
Now it’s my turn to ask you a question! Who takes the time to sit waiting at 4:00 in the morning on the ledge of a forested canyon to observe and witness the colorful waking of life?
This is the quintessence of my work. It’s truly to know where to look for, find and how to capture these moments.
When you have to be patient for so many hours to capture a great photo, like this one taken in the Seychelles (1384 – colère apaisée), are you in a state of waiting around or contemplation?
It’s clearly a contemplative state where I let myself be absorbed by my surroundings. I usually know & sense that something beautiful is going to present itself to me. These moments of waiting make me very happy. I’m never impatient, although, after taking the photo, I hurry to check if the final result is as good as I prepared for it.
Your presence at your gallery and your art production takes your time away from shooting. Why not delegate this work?
It can’t be delegated. I am committed to my personal artwork; the MALTESTE signature is what I capture with my inquisitive eye. Looking for, finding and capturing the sublime are a personal task that can’t be ordered from someone else.
I also like to keep a certain amount of control over the quality of my art that is passed down to the collectors. That’s why I personally take and check each and every photograph. Each one must match my vision and expectations. From a production point of view, I sign all the numbered series, and this work is only done at the gallery. My presence at my gallery allows me to pass lots of time with the people who have come to see my work. It’s always nice to discuss photography, my techniques, my Plexi-Art finishing processes and the different types of framings available.
Do you feel like you’ve ever actually captured the sublime?
Believe me, it’s a quest that never ends! I want to push the limits, to explore rare and inaccessible locations of exquisite beauty, where few people have gone, in order to try to capture again and again “the sublime”; those extremely ephemeral moments that soon won’t exist, in big part because of man’s intervention.
The opening of your gallery marks a certain successful realization of your work. What is the next step that you envision?
I would like to create an artistic imprint specific to MALTESTE, a bit like luxury brands of clothing or jewelry, and I’ve already planned to open other galleries in a specific style like this one. It would be a good way to spread my brand in the world. But one of my greatest wishes would be to open a gallery in Europe, in France, in a beautiful location in Paris. I have always had this idea at the back of my mind and its realization would be a great way to pay tribute to my first Canadian ancestor who left France in 1749. This young man, called Jean-Marie MALTESTE, came here when he was 14 years old. He left France, friends & family to explore the unknown territory of New France (Canada). His name had been mostly forgotten until I took it as my artist’s signature.
If, one day I manage to open a MALTESTE gallery in Europe, it would be, I think, a magnificent return to the source!
For my 30th anniversary in photography, I am now unveiling in very limited edition a compendium of what I consider to be my finest work to date. These large format ultra high-resolution panoramic luxury photography will be printed exclusively on silver halide (Agx) genuine photo paper.
I am thankful that Life As A Human has accepted the request to present this new series in exclusivity.
As always, I used my customary “single shot in the camera photography” technique with the optimal control of planes of sharpness using state-of-the-art 24, 45 or 85 mm manual focus Tilt & Shift fixed optics. During the “single shot” photo shoot, the control of light and contrast is always accomplished with the combination of professional filter holder, neutral polarizer, stock or custom-made neutral density graduated filters.
Available sizes will range from 3×8 feet (1 panel) to a maximum size of 9×24 feet (6 panels). They will be available to the public in our Montreal gallery and our website later this year during the last quarter of 2014.
All Photographs © MALTESTE
MALTESTE Bio Photo © Nathalie Clément
Written by Yannick LeCam – France
Translation by Julia Harris
MALTESTE Photographer Bio
Born in 1962 (52)
Was drawing before walking
Studied ART for 3 years
Studied 3D Design for one year
Studied Business at University for 3 years (Bachelor)
Started Photography in april 1984 (30 years this month)
Owner & creator of the first Canadian High End Fine Art photography gallery dedicated exclusively to the artwork of MALTESTE.
WEBSITE: MALTESTE – In Search of the Sublime
MALTESTE LOGO & WEBSITE: SimpleCreation.ca
WEBZINE: MEDI@ME #2 (September – October 2012)
MASTERCLASS available: Please contact MALTESTE at firstname.lastname@example.org
MALTESTE PHOTOGRAPHIE EXPRESSIONNISTE inc.
Montreal, QC H2Y 2V1