Peru’s most famous photographer Mario Testino is renowned throughout the world for his work in fashion. Yet fans may be less familiar with the ongoing project in his hometown of Lima, the MATE Museum. Designed to showcase the best of both internationally acclaimed names and emerging Peruvian artists, it might just be Testino’s most exciting venture. Culture Trip lifts the lid on this under the radar venture and explores why MATE is so crucial in the celebration of Peruvian talent.
“MATE aims to bring Peruvian artists and culture to worldwide attention”, reads the mission statement on MATE’s website, “while offering the best of international contemporary art and photography to audiences in Lima. MATE facilitates this lively exchange through a dynamic program of exhibitions, residencies, and events, alongside a permanent display of work by Mario Testino.”
From the moment you enter the museum, this mission is immediately evident. Housed in a re-modeled colonial building, the first room of the museum exhibits the work of Mario Testino. You’ll make your way through several small rooms with his glamorous photos of celebrities and supermodels adorning the walls. His celebrity portraits are intimate and humanizing, perfectly capturing these people who live a life only a small group of people truly know.
Once you make your way past Testino‘s gallery you’ll enter a separate building, just across from the rooms housing the Peruvian’s photography. Here you’ll find a rectangular room dedicated to guest artists. Perhaps the museum’s greatest impact is just this – offering up-and-coming Peruvian artists a chance to have their work shown alongside Testino’s.
Since the renovated mansion turned art gallery opened its doors in 2012, it has offered a space where students can expand their understanding of art and gain a strong foundation for creativity and critical thinking. And for the fashion-obsessed, there’s also a unique store that offers the best of local craftsmanship as well as the photographer’s work.
Testino has taken photos of the world’s most recognized and accomplished people from all corners of the globe. His list of clients is long and distinguished and includes the likes of Princess Diana, Justin Bieber and Kate Moss, pictures of whom all hang in the museum. But as you walk through the museum, seeing all the Peruvians and tourists file in-and-out of the various rooms, there is a sense that he has offered the community something more profound and less tangible.
In the small museum, a short walk away from Barranco‘s main plaza, Testino has opened a cultural gateway between Peru’s creative talent and the rest of the world. Testino gives Peruvian artists a platform, a microphone to the world that he had to travel the world to find. Now Peruvian artists only have to travel as far as Barranco to have their art hung near a world-renowned artist.