WILL DATENÉ 1948-2018
We are deeply saddened by the death of Will Datené on Monday November 5, 2018, while out exploring the West Coast’s light with his camera. Internationally-known photographer, teacher and mentor, Will was a founding member of Friends of the Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery and fully committed to the creation of a world-class public art gallery and cultural centre for the Cowichan Valley.
Born in Aachen, Germany, Will emigrated at the age of 10 with his family to live in New York City. In 1968 he moved to Canada.
Will studied at The New School: a New York City university which was established in the early 20th C to offer students studies in multi-disciplinary academic and creative contexts, achieving new ways of viewing the world and social problem-solving. Here, Will joined alumni such as John Cage, Jasper Johns, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlon Brando, Jack Kerouac, Christopher Hitchens and other seminal 20th C and contemporary artists, thinkers and innovators. Will’s professional career began as first assistant to 3 top fashion photographers, followed by work with a commercial product photography studio.
In Canada, Will studied in the BCIT Professional Photography Program, and taught professional photography with North Island College, and Continuing Studies photography courses, Camosun College. Latterly, Will’s creative work focussed on stock photography, represented by Age Fotostock (Spain/New York), First Light (Toronto) and Superstock (Florida).
To this beholder’s eyes, Will’s photographic vision is uncannily luminous and mystical. It juxtaposes earthy engorged colour with poignantly realized black and white tones. The affect is a rendering of — strangely classical — romantic decadence. A stack of antiquary books, for instance, piles melancholy green-decayed light on classically-gilded book leaves. A rooster flaunts violently erotic saturated hues. A Dog’s dark molten eyes mirror his Friend’s empathic gaze to the beholder. Adrift in sun motes issuing through a derelict doorway, the anachronism of a young cowboy clutches time’s breath.
This lyrically dark psychological stain shifts into Will’s other ludic voice, as seen in the CVPAG Society’s logo: a dog with a bone who playfully escapes the picture frame.
Authentic, warm and delightful as a person, Will Datené’s “passion and vision” emerge as a clear ethic “to seek out a more just, beautiful and better-designed world.”
Written by Wendy Robison