I discovered Matt’s work on Instagram and I follow his posts on @matt.wilson.gc with tremendous anticipation. Matt Wilson’s wine photography always brings some striking visceral joy. In most of his photographs the joy comes from the sheer beauty of the shot but in some of them it comes from sharing a moment of anarchy. There is an element of surprise and warped humour to be found in Matt’s portfolio as we shall see.
Capturing the Sublime and the Messy
Matt is a professional photographer. He lives in Chile and is married to Andrea Leon, the winemaker at Casa Lapostolle Wines. Matt specializes in photographing wine people and places and is highly sought after in the wine world. He is the winner of numerous photography awards and is widely published in magazines like Wine Enthusiast and Vanity Fair. As an admirer of his work, I asked Matt if we could do an article featuring his photographs for The Wine Beat. He agreed and provided photos but he handed me the reins for putting together the dialogue. Matt is clearly a risk taker … but here is my homage to his art.
Matt has the genius skill that great photographers have of being able to convey a continuing narrative in a still image – as though physical movement and passage of time flows within the shot. Not a snapshot in time but a whole progression of time in a single frozen frame … allowing all of the greater context of place and human emotion to be transmitted in that single frame. Just look at the photo of Count Francesco Marone on his horse – sitting motionless while the horse flies. Or Grant Phelps with wine and wood splinters spitting. Or the vineyard workers moving along a row of grape vines in steady husbandry.
A Wallop of Madness
One of the defining features of Matt Wilson’s wine photography is the careening juxtaposition of styles. He goes from a sublimely beautiful landscape to a mischievously violent action shot and then to a respectfully passionate portrait. All are joyful but sometimes they are charged with a graffiti artist’s vandalism. They might portray abiding calm or a playful sense of imminent disaster. Matt sometimes revels in warping perspective and applying extreme exaggeration to his subject matter – like the idea that a winemaker should hold wine (literally) not the bottle.
Have a look at the photos below to see what I mean. His portraits of people working in the vineyard convey real love and respect and make their labour noble. His photos of wine landscapes are deeply serene testaments to his love of the places. And then there is this distinguishing part of his portfolio where a comic book madness and a deviant attraction to violence takes his creative urge. It’s a perspective on wine that exists nowhere else. He takes the sensory hedonism of wine and then runs 10,000 volts through it to see what the most gonzo far reaches might be like … apparently some of Matt’s friends are quite weird.
Vineyard Workers and the Carménère Harvest at Casa Silva Winery.
Winter Pruning at William Fevre Winery in Maipo.
Matt’s Mad Friends
Grant Phelps Making Clear How He Feels About Over-Oaked Wines.
Alien Abduction In Progress.
The Return of the Wine-Punk Angel
Sunset On The Elqui Valley in Northern Chile
Sunset on the Cachapoal Valley
Early Morning, San Javier
Find Matt’s work at www.mattwilson.cl and on his Instagram account @matt.wilson.gc and on Twitter @Photos_in_Chile. Please send a comment to let us know how much you enjoyed Matt’s photography!
For more content on Chile check out these pages from The Wine Beat.