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
Have you ever imagined Amy Winehouse or Nick Cave as a Chihuahua, Neil Young as a Vizsla, or PJ Harvey as an Afghan hound? That’s exactly what San Francisco-based artist Michael Gillette has done through his unique illustration project, blending beloved, iconic music legends, both past and present, with their dog counterparts. Pack of Dogs, our first foray into book publishing, is a celebration of pup and pop culture for music and dog lovers alike.
August 25, 2020