Swedish photographer Gustaf Mattisson found himself feeling oddly isolated when he moved away from home, where a string of wonderfully ruddy Irish red setters had been a constant. “I missed the daily interaction with dogs, to just be around these amazing and expressive creatures,” he says. “I felt lost without their company.” So, while studying his craft, Mattisson began to use his artistic medium as a means to reconnect: “I noticed that the camera could work as an excuse to get in touch with people that surrounded themselves with dogs. The photographs became almost by-products, but they had an important function, namely that they are a lasting representation of the time we spent together.”
Mattisson’s motivation might be warm and fuzzy, but the resulting images tell another story. Shadows channel the “experiences, mental states or ways of being” he finds difficult to communicate otherwise, with the “various vague aspects of existence” expressed through striking contrasts of light and dark. A silhouette, reduced to a simple shape in a monochromatic setting, heightens the emotional pull. If Mattisson feels out of sync when his furry friends aren’t around, he certainly finds his footing once they’re back in the frame.
All images courtesy of Gustaf Mattisson
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019