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Romanian-born photographer Dan St. Andrei adopts a philosophical approach to the art of photography. He states: “Life is eventually an eternal attempt to understand your purpose, to build up and mold, to grow and to define yourself … I would like to discover daily reasons to love myself.”  His images take on so many different styles and approaches: from the fetishism of his sensual fragments; to the poetic dynamism of his photographs of dancers; to the reflexive and dream-like quality of his dystopic utopia images, which he calls, in a deliberate pun,  Mytopia.

If his photo series have any common thread, it’s in depicting life, as Dan St. Andrei himself puts it, as “beautifully imperfect.” The beauty lies in the aesthetic impact, since Dan St. Andrei’s images are not only beautiful but also dreamy, even haunting. The imperfection is revealed in the human emotions and anxieties they reflect, holding a mirror to both what we reveal and what we hide within. As the artist puts it, through the art of photography, he searches “for  the meanings and hidden motivations that put our world into motion.”

It’s difficult to imagine a world without fantasy, without dream. This would be a world devoid of possibilities, without a future. Dan St. Andrei captures our dreams and hopes in motion, as they develop, both literally from the camera as well as figuratively in our minds. He states: “There are moments when we ask ourselves about our purpose in life, about its meaning and our motivations. There are moments when we ask questions about life, as it is or as we imagine it to be.” The gap between reality and dream is not unbridgeable. It’s often connected, in fact, by art and our imaginations: “There are moments when we allow our imaginations to roam free; in which we allow ourselves to dream.”

Dan St. Andrei captures the dreamer in each of  us, whether we’re artists or not. After all, it’s our dreams that make more bearable our imperfect reality; that help us change it for the better; that give us hope and a sense of drive and direction in life. Without these aesthetic dreams, we risk getting bogged down in the routines and responsibilities of daily life. The dreamer in us, the artist explains, “lives through these moments” when life’s “imperfection becomes beautiful.” This may be only our personal vision–a fantasy–or what, if we follow our dreams, we make happen in real life.

There is also a sense of nostalgia in Dan St. Andrei’s images, as he suggests bygone eras. He does this without melancholia however, even adding a ludic touch, as in the fashion series below, photographed by Dan St. Andrei and created with the help of the talented stylist, Alin Galatescu.

Andrei Octav Doicescu aptly stated:  “The present disintegrates, first in history, then in nostalgia.” Nostalgia is an acute, often painful, awareness  of an irretrievably  lost past that we still long for in the present. But Dan St. Andrei shows us the past doesn’t have to evoke sadness. The past can reappear in our present as a playful celebration of previous epochs, in our imaginations, in art and of course in history. 

Like a Proustian search for lost time in pictorial form–a search for lost love, for impossibly perfect social structures, for the (unattainable) fulfillment of our sensual and sexual desires–Dan St. Andrei’s photography captures the peregrinations of our search for meaning in a life deprived of certainties. You can view his portfolio on his website, http://danandrei.com/.

Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com