Cig Harvey's 'Azaleas, Pressing': Reality and Fantasy

IN: (Sep 09, 2019)In Focus
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Azaleas, Pressing, Rockport, Maine, 2018. Cig Harvey

Cig-Harvey-Azaleas-Pressing-scaled
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Azaleas, Pressing, Rockport, Maine, 2018. Cig Harvey

Despite the obfuscated view, the textures are rendered incredibly tangibly; the wetness of the window and the plump flesh of the gently pressing petals are almost visceral.   Cig Harvey

Cig Harvey is a contemporary artist who works primarily with photography, her practice pursuing the sensory richness of everyday life. Azaleas, Pressing, Rockport, Maine, 2018, depicts azaleas behind a cold window that is fogged up with condensation. This steamed effect blurs the intricacies of the flowers, imbuing the image with a sense of abstraction and narrative mystery. 

The photograph displays a palette of just two richly saturated colours, the hot pink petals of the azalea, and the vivid green of the leaves that are interspersed between them. Despite the obfuscated view, the textures are rendered incredibly tangibly; the wetness of the window and the plump flesh of the gently pressing petals are almost visceral. Exploring colour and observation within the natural world, this work engages with our senses by providing both visual and tactile stimulation.

The visual barrier of the windowpane constricts our viewing and disrupts a clear reading of the image. The viewer is, instead, forced to engage in a different way with the composition. The distortion and abstraction of the image encourages a more sensory and emotive reaction to the subject matter.

Harvey’s poetic visual narrative explores, as she describes, ‘a magic in the world while having one foot very much placed in reality’. In this particular composition, this juxtaposition is further heightened by the selection of petals compressed by their pressure on the windowpane, alerting us to the obstruction between our space as a viewer and the space that belongs to the flowers, perhaps alluding to the line between reality and fantasy that Harvey indicates. 

Harvey’s innovative practice is rich in colour play and layers of fractured narrative. The work celebrates the potentials of understanding the everyday as a haven; a place of inspiration and fascination. The images she produces are personal moments of intrigue: ordinary moments that she transforms into scenes that are both surreal and spectacular

(By Alexandra MacKay)

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