San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nature Photographer to Exhibit in San José

“Fauna Rica: A Gift and a Responsibility” is the title of an extraordinary exhibition featuring works by renowned fine art photographer John Dessarzin. From Jan. 30 through February, the National Gallery at the Children’s Museum in downtown San José will be hosting approximately 60 large-format images of exquisite beauty taken by Dessarzin on a photographic odyssey throughout the country.

Enchanted by Costa Rica’s tropical splendor, the Swiss Dessarzin has been immersing himself in nature photography since moving here three years ago from New York City to settle in the tranquil outskirts of Atenas, a coffee town northwest of San José (TT, Sept. 23, 2005).

From the tiniest poison dart frog to the majestic puma, Dessarzin has photographed them all: the emerald-green grasshoppers and lively lizards in his garden; the pop-eyed toads in his pool and the furry monkeys in the Central Pacific’s ManuelAntonioNational Park. He has shot supple snakes and solitary ocelots in CorcovadoNational Park, on the southern Pacific coast, and gracious cranes and imposing peacocks in La Garita’s

Zoo Ave, northwest

of San José.

“For me the camera lens is a passage to aesthetic pleasure,” says Dessarzin, who provides visitors with a closer look into the fascinating animal kingdom. “If I do my job well, you will see the scene as I saw it and will – almost – feel as I felt while I was taking it.”

Whether photographing scorpions, venomous snakes or a pair of wild monkeys, Dessarzin is passionate and unafraid as he attempts to click the shutter at the precise instant when the scene before him is at its peak of power.

“My record of animals in Costa Rica is not finished yet,” the photographer says. “It’s an ongoing process, since I shoot something almost every day.”

One of his favorite motifs is the juxtaposition of two creatures or objects. His combination of beetles, butterflies or snakes with tropical blossoms is both elegant and spirited.

Of otherworldly beauty is the union of a black-and gray-colored mantis with a necklace of diamonds and blue sapphires. (The necklace, created by legendary Parisian jewelers Van Cleef and Arpels, is an heirloom of the photographer’s family.)

Dessarzin, who is also an avid writer, is best known for his fine-art architecture photography and his work for the travel industry.

During his 40-year career, his subjects have included evening gowns for Hollywood’s Academy Awards, landscapes in the U.S. state of Colorado, brochures for hotels and resorts in the Caribbean, Asian art in Japan and Hong Kong, and celebrity portraits.

Dessarzin has contributed to nine coffee-table books, including “Venetian Glass,” “Art Deco” and “The Somerset Hills (New Jersey Country Houses).” He holds a Master of Arts degree from École d’Ouchy in Lausanne, and also studied at Switzerland’s renowned École de Photographie de Vevey.

With the Swiss Embassy in Costa Rica sponsoring “Fauna Rica” (“Rich Fauna”), Dessarzin says he is excited about his first showing here and honored to be recognized in a distant land by his native country.

Swiss Ambassador Gabriela Nützi Sulpizio will inaugurate the exhibition. Her enthusiasm is evident when she talks about Dessarzin’s work: “Dessarzin’s fine art photographs are not just superficial records of the unique nature in Costa Rica; his work is inspired by his artistic sentiment, and that is what makes it so impressive.”

Nützi expresses her hope “that this showing is going to foster the perception and understanding for the diversity, beauty and fragility of Costa Rica’s fauna and flora, helping to preserve its tropical bounty for future generations.”

Visitors will be able to acquire prints of the works on exhibition at the National Gallery; they can also watch a DVD in the media room.

The Children’s Museum, also known as the Costa Rican Science and CultureCenter, is in downtown San José at the east end of Calle 4. The National Gallery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information about Dessarzin, visit


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