Daniil Kontorovich

12 January 2024 — 7 April 2024
  • Daniil Kontorovich. Metatundra

Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art presented an exhibition by the photographer Daniil Kontorovich whose bright and atmospherically psychedelic works provide a glimpse into the depths of human subconscious

  • Creative transformation of actual reality through colour grading

  • Red colour used as a way to express hidden and unacknowledged emotions

  • An attempt to visualise the oftentimes paradoxical workings of human psyche and reveal the immanent beauty of the world


Daniil Kontorovich is known first and foremost for his photographic portraits, many of which received important awards and prizes. As a portrait photographer, he aims to look beyond the surface and capture the model’s individuality. Daniil also teaches professional courses and, parallel to laying bare the secrets of the trade, guides his students towards self-discovery through photography.

Taking portraiture as his departure point, the artist consistently broadens his creative toolkit: the Metatundra and Dreams projects featured in the exhibition explore the depths of human subconscious. The prefix meta- (from the Greek ‘between’ or ‘beyond’) refers to a change of states, a certain transitional phase. According to Daniil, the Metatundra series bears an imprint of the artist’s mind and reflects his inner world. Assembling echoes of emotions and snatches of dreams into a single mosaic pattern, he attempts to come to grips with human loneliness and our place in this world.

A good many photographers shoot nudes amid nature, but Daniil Kontorovich approaches the subject in a distinctly expressive way. The artist painstakingly arranges each frame, eliminating the unnecessary and seamlessly blending the human image into its natural surroundings. He goes on to apply additional chromatic accents, formulating a kind of collective unconscious wherein the prevalent red colour acts as the common denominator. Since the dawn of mankind, red has been understood as the symbol of blood. Even in the cave paintings it already had pronounced ritualistic implications, and is still associated with potentially dangerous situations requiring increased care and attention – as is the case with the red traffic light. The artist condenses the meanings contained within each picture to arrive at a symbol or even an archetype: that is why a person viewing his works might sometimes get a sense of déjà vu or connectedness to the scene, as if the photographer has caught a glimpse of your own dreams and memories.

The projects presented at Erarta are the result of creative transformations of the images captured by the artist on his trips. Daniil usually photographs an existing landscape with a digital camera, limiting post-production to colour grading and avoiding such effects as collage or double exposure (the only piece employing the latter technique immediately stands out from the rest in this show). His signature style could justly be called magical realism, as the artist only slightly retouches actual reality. For instance, the picture with the swing prior to colour grading was an ordinary misty landscape.

Despite their psychedelic atmosphere, the works of Daniil Kontorovich are based on the impressions of reality around us and the artist’s attempts to visualise the oftentimes paradoxical workings of human psyche. He uses the red colour to express the hidden emotions that we experience without acknowledging: captured in his photographs, they reveal themselves in the red ‘beacons.’

The artist stresses that his art is geared towards investigating human nature, the unconscious, and the environment, inviting the viewer to look through a surreal prism in order to appreciate the immanent beauty of the world and its complex intrinsic meanings.

about the artist

Daniil Kontorovich was born in St. Petersburg on 18 October 1991. In 2007−2011, he studied Graphic Design at the Nicholas Roerich St. Petersburg Art School, later completing additional courses: Contemporary Photography (2016–2017) and Portrait with a Story (2020). Daniil was among the nominees and winners of several photography competitions, including Inner Light 75+, Best of Russia, and Sony World Photography Awards. His works were published in Digital Photo, Foto&Video, Photomasterskaya, and PhotoCASA magazines.

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