Like a setting that has been spared the industrial developments plaguing cities, mountains remain a space of intact purity that man is unable to dominate. Steiner’s work is an emblematic metaphor of an ideal world and doesn’t merely document a paradisal Switzerland, it offers autonomous views that are composed like landscape paintings. The photographer conceives his images the way a painter would, in terms of composition and materials, renderings and atmospheres. His gaze is filled with paintings.
The man who is dubbed “the eye of the Engadin” hikes the trails around Saint-Moritz and Piz Bernina again and again in search of the panorama that recalls for him a canvas by Ferdinand Hodler or a work by Giovanni Segantini, another artist who manifests a great fondness for the region. Steiner’s meticulous compositions and mastery of framing make plain his connection with Hodler, and the photographer in fact occasionally borrows the painter’s principles of a symmetrical composition and his method of parallelism. In the case of Segantini, Steiner shares the same experimentation with landscapes as both a reflection of the soul and an image filled with symbolism.
His search for motifs and forms worthy of being put on film leads him to focus on natural textures, moss on a rock, silky grasses in a field, snow crystals floating on a pond, or the outline of larch leaves against an Alpine sky. This skill in rendering living materials is joined with his mastery of grey values and contrasts of light to construct dense, harmonious images. Steiner is an artist who dreams of a nature that escapes from the notion of time and strives to reveal its eternal beauty, like the search for a lost paradise.