The new photo series by Dana & Stéphane Maitec is a clear proof of their experimental, incessantly vivid research. With a highly professional background in set design - very much visible in almost all their previous works -, the two artists make a slight change in this new experiment, in the sense that all that until now was present in front of the camera - the carefully built scenery, together with the whole series of theatrical props - has been moved to the backstage.
If previously one could identify their visual imprint with a spectacle of the human nature, in what they both defined an interest “not in the picture, but in the photo storytelling”, the new non-figurative abstract photo series seems more than a casual shift of direction in their artistic path. Proper lighting has always been for the artist duo a major preoccupation in their work; but if until now it was meant to merely serve the space and the figure representation, the new photo series brings forward the light as the main creative protagonist: the multi-layered colourful volumetry we see in these painting-like, almost sculptural images, is the result of a mysterious rediscovery of what seems to be the effect of a light ritual process. It is clear that, while leaving aside their previous focus on the figurative, the two artists now put colour, form and reflection at the centre of their new photographic investigation, where set design is no longer a visible scenery, but becomes part of the image creation itself, in a spectacular and revealing disclosure of the creative potentialities of working with natural light.
What we see in their new photographs is a switch not only from figurative to non-figurative and abstract photography, but, more deeply, an unexpected shift from the concreteness and materiality of the figurative to the softness of image, from the heaviness of figure to the weightlessness of light-created forms and colours.
In a world where technology claims an ever-increasing power in the making process of the image, Dana & Stéphane Maitec make a surprisingly fresh, genuine use of photography. Technology is in their work a very discreet, slightly noticeable factor. Their current series may recall something of the way Impressionists rediscovered natural light in their plein air revolutionary pursuit of rendering reality free from any mimetic, reductionist and unilateral approach. The new photographs are created in the intimacy of their studio, working exclusively with natural light, which means that the effective work lasts a few hours a day, and even less, if weather is not on their side on a day or another. Telling the story of how they created the new series, the two artists discreetly disclose a process in which the camera records how colours, volumes, reflected forms and layers are born without any technical intervention, if not that of the camera witnessing the privileged moment of how light, reflection and objects interfere.
It is as if the two photographers would have abandoned for a while their figure-centered research to investigate the crossing borders between photography, painting and light sculpting, in what seems to be a sort of undeclared manifesto for a new, fluid art genre. A new and bold reassertion of light and a plea for the minimalist, technological - free intervention of the artist. This new series brings to mind what Borges called “the active aesthetics of prisms”, able to bring newness, create and impose new facets of the world, as opposed to the mimetic “passive aesthetics of mirrors”, which would only limit itself to the “objectivity of the environment” or to the “psychological history of the individual”. A fresh manifesto for a new aesthetics of the image, in the new photo series by Dana and Stéphane Maitec.