Natalie Field contemporary fine art photography is now represented by Phogarty!

Phogarty is a contemporary fine art photography gallery dedicated to the art of photography. This initiative showcases a select group of South African Master Fine Art Photographers in an exclusive online gallery. I am honoured to be selected as one of the eleven artists currently represented by them. 

Let’s take a peek inside the rabbit hole that is “art”. Don’t worry, we won’t get in.

What is Art

The first known artworks were Paleolithic cave paintings capturing hunting expeditions (or possibly even strategies). From this, it seems clear to me, that art originated to fulfill the need to capture and represent life.  And so, for centuries, the extraordinary skills of artists were applied to not only record life, but also communicate political and spiritual concepts.

“Art is IMITATION of Nature”
Plato

However, soon after the development of photography in 1839, traditional art evolved. At first, artists used photography as a tool to capture the reflections of life and enhance the realism of their artworks. But nothing beats photography for realism, and soon artists moved away from imitation to abstraction. And true art was born. Art that is not created to fulfill a need, but to express emotions and intellectual thought. By the early 1900’s, Modern Art movements like Cubism and Futurism had developed their own stylistic approaches that destroyed the existing notions of what art is.

And so, over time, the concept and definition of art has shifted with the sands of time, bringing us to today’s definition…

 “Art is… The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
Oxford Dictionary

Photography as an Art Form

However, the struggle for lens-based art had just begun. Even today, some purist galleries do not recognise photography as an art form. Although they will often allow other edition based arts, like lithography. This line of thought considers the photograph as an expression of a scientific tool rather than that of the photographer.

Although some may argue that photography is “true to life”, I believe that even in documentary and commercial photography the choices made by the photographer manipulate the final outcome of that “truth”.

By simply adjusting the shutter or aperture for creative effect, the photographer influences the image to produce a biased perception of the world. Lens choice, angle of view, perspective, crop, colouration, and so on are all applied to direct the viewers opinion of the subject matter.

Historically, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) is credited with getting photography accepted as an art form. Along with Edward Steichen (1879-1973), these photographers established the first photographic art movement: Pictorialism (1885-1915). Rather than merely representing the world (much like traditional artists had initially done with their craft), they broke free of realism. Instead Pictorialism presents soft and dreamy renditions of the world, created through experimental post-processes in the dark room.

And so, the camera became a tool for artistic expression.

“Art is ABSTRACTION”
Matthew Harvey

Contemporary Fine Art Photography

Although I personally love experimenting with processes both in-camera and in post-processing, I do not believe that these factors need necessarily be present for photography to be considered fine art. Besides the primary requirement of aesthetics, for me, it is more about the message. Because the WHY  is as important as the WHAT. It is about drawing from one’s own experiences, insights and passions to create emotive art that resonates with you on a personal level first and foremost. And in so doing your work is sure to resonate with others. For we all share this human experience.

Although I also create commissioned fine art works, it is the limited edition works that are my greatest joy. Through my art I explore existential themes around consciousness, our connection with nature and the transmigration of the soul; imploring viewers to reflect upon their own humanity.

Phogarty is currently showing two exclusive collections of my contemporary fine art photography. “Animal Within” and “Breathe in… Breathe out… Let the human in…” are both featured in limited editions. With “Human.Nature” set to be released later this month!

Animal Within

Contemporary Fine art Photography by Natalie Field represented by Phogarty inspired by dance and Animalism in conceptual images created through in-camera techniques like multiple exposure and long exposure

This body of conceptual portraits explores the themes of Animalism, Zoomorphism and Therianthropy.

Animalism is the concept that we as humans are intrinsically animals, set apart from other creatures simply by our cognitive thinking… our self-awareness. We are organized chaos, our intellectual mind often at war with our animalistic instincts. The idea of acting on these instincts and giving in to desire is sometimes perceived in a negative light, but I imagine it more as giving in to free abandon on the dance floor… Savage and untamed, yet graceful and charged with energy.

This inner struggle is portrayed through movement and dance, using in-camera effects such as multiple exposures, freeze photography and motion blur. I have chosen these techniques in order to introduce chance into the work. Allowing the motion and flow to bring something to the image that cannot be predicted or totally planned. This comes after I recently started exploring the idea of Automatism: a technique developed during the Surrealist movement that shifted creation from conscious control to chance.

The theme is visually established through Zoomorphism, the addition of animal attributes to the human form. The movement in the images are suggestive of the transformation of human to animal.

Breathe in… Breathe out… Let the human in…

Contemporary Fine art Photography by Natalie Field represented by Phogarty inspired by yoga and evolution in conceptual photo-manipulation

There is talk within the scientific community that we have entered the Anthropocene Age, which describes a geological epoch caused by human activity. We leave behind the stable conditions of the Holocene Age as we create an imbalance in the closed system that we call home: earth. The time to make a major change on how we use resources is now, and considering the greed and indifference that has taken hold in the world I am afraid it may well be too late for people to change. We have forgotten that we are biological creatures.

“Breathe in… Breathe out… Let the human in…” explores concepts around evolution. As we enter the Anthropocene Age, it seems that the next step in man’s evolution will be the “Singularity”. A hypothetical moment in time when technology becomes so advanced that humanity undergoes dramatic and irreversible change. It is thought that this event will occur by the year 2045. And that at this point artificial intelligence will become so powerful that humans must integrate themselves to adapt.

In defiance of the trans-human form, these works suggest that we are already in a singularity with nature. And asks the viewer the consider what happens to our biology when we become technology.

 “Fine Art Photography is a true expression of my soul.”
Natalie Field    

 Limited edition prints are available through the Phogarty Shop.

Further Reading

For those who wish to take a deeper look inside the rabbit hole…

Oxford Dictionary “Art” 

Visual Arts Cork “Fine Art Photography”

Britannica “Pictorialism”

Decoded Past “Plato’s Argument: Art is an Imitation of an Imitation”