Photographer Matthew Donaldson finds the perfect models for a selection of Aston Martin’s striking paint colours, available through the Q Service, in a special studio shoot

Words: Jonathan Bell

MATTHEW DONALDSON’S PHOTOGRAPHY features frequent explosions of colour, whether it is the bold wedge of a designer handbag, a shock of red hair or the pyrotechnic use of liquid paint, powders and smoke. With a portfolio that swings between glossy high-fashion eroticism and sharp-edged, modernist compositions, Donaldson’s strong geometric sense shines through. His elaborate still lifes, crisp fashion photography and stark, architectural product shots are paired with sensual cinematography—his short films use arresting slow motion to wring beauty out of tumbling, shifting chaos.

For AM Magazine, Donaldson has returned to the studio, taking with him a set of deconstructed Vantage models to experiment with colour and form. The models, originally made by AutoArt, have been stripped of all trim, glass and wheels by Donaldson’s team and mounted on a specially made stand. At just 1/18 scale, they respond dramatically to fluid streams of dripped and poured paint, their sculpted surfaces gradually transformed into shimmering pools of colour. The paint also serves to camouflage their true scale, giving the viewer a moment of uncertainty as to what they are looking at: is this a full-size art installation or a macro-level experiment?

These aren’t just any old paints, of course. Taken from Aston Martin’s Q service, these colours are bold and vibrant, sparkling with embedded metallic flakes or shifting in colour and tone with the viewing angle. They have evocative names, bringing to mind places and memories associated with the cars, be they race tracks (Flugplatz Blue), exotic West Coast locations (Santa Cruz Yellow, Montana Orange, Tomales Red), the beautiful simplicity of pure materials (Onyx, Cobalt) or powerful acts of nature (Volcano, Lightning).

“Q allows Aston Martin customers to let their personality shine through, with a palette of colours that adds an extra level of personalisation”

Q allows Aston Martin customers to let their personality shine through, with a palette of interior and exterior colours that adds an extra, very special, level of personalisation. Q can even go beyond these special colours; as a bespoke service, the possibilities are almost endless—Q division can take a colour from literally any source, be it an item of clothing or a piece of art and transform it into a rich, lustrous paint finish.

Donaldson’s swift shutter captures the fluid dynamics of liquid in motion, the paint dancing a delicate chiaroscuro across the model’s curves and apertures. Each colour is reduced to its essence, enhancing and accentuating the form of the cars. The images even recall the Anthropometries series by the French artist Yves Klein, his 1960s art-and-music performance works that saw expressive canvases created by naked models rolling and being pulled around in the artist’s trademark blue paint. Klein’s dalliances epitomised the 60s-era collision between art and music, and these paint-splattered maquettes have a certain pop sensibility, a playful boldness juxtaposed against the hand-shaped bodywork.

Colour is a critical element of car design, with different hues and shades changing the perception of form, scale and volume. Q allows you to go one step further, and draw chromatic inspiration from anywhere on the planet. An Aston Martin’s purity of line, strength of form and inherently perfect proportions create the perfect canvas for self-expression. Colour and form produce a dynamic partnership without equal.