JONATHAN Z LEE
Nova Fine Art, Dogtooth Galleries, APRE Artnet, Perspectives Studio Gallery,
Digital Art Fair Asia, Driftwood Galleries
Publications: National Geographic, Vanity Fair UK, BBC Earth, Rue Magazine, House Beautiful
Organizations supported: African Parks, Sea Legacy, Jane Goodall Institute, Big Life Foundation
Ansel Adams said that photography can be the truest form of expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.
I believe this to be true. And as my own consciousness matures, Nature reveals itself more and more to be a seamless unity of connected patterns and forces. A rhythmic, poetic, fluid thing. It offers glimpses of perfect order intrinsically connected with the immediate breakdown into disorder. Rising and falling, coming and going, appearing and disappearing, perfect in its duality. Our place in the natural order is not as an outsider - we are not born into this world, we are born out of it. It is no coincidence that every child loves animals. Some of us just never outgrow it.
I have ventured from pole to pole, explored above and below the surface, and much in between to deepen my understanding of this. I have stared into the pupils of polar bears, tigers, dolphins, elephants, grizzlies, lions, lemurs, penguins, sharks, leopards, and many humans. And in every set of eyes, I have seen the divine spark of life which connects all beings.
I think of what I do as a work of love first, and a work of art second. But I am cursed with being a perfectionist, and I suppose I am therefore well suited for this craft. I am honored that my work now hangs in homes across four continents, has been published by the likes of National Geographic, BBC Earth, and Vanity Fair, and shares gallery space with other tremendous artists around the world.
It helps that I was always handy with a camera, picked up no doubt from my father, who, to my great annoyance back then, spent far too long composing each family shot with great care. I guess I should apologize now for ruining it every time with my goofy faces and incessant fidgeting.
It also helps that during this quest of mine I have met so many amazing people who have supported and encouraged me, and also many fantastic photographers whose works I deeply admire. None more so than David Yarrow, a true master of the craft, an endless source of inspiration and influence, and someone I am fortunate to call a dear friend. In addition to David, my approach to photography has been shaped by my study of renaissance art while living in Florence as a young man, refined through my appreciation of other titans of the craft like Sebastião Salgado and Dorothea Lange, and anchored by the words of the old world sages who saw behind the veil of reality and understood that multiplicity is a delusion.
I cannot ever fully impart what I have learned and felt through my journey, but I’d like to think it can be pieced together from the fragments of myself I have left in each image.
The goal has always been to give back, and thanks to you, we have raised significant sums for wildlife conservation efforts. It reinforces my conviction that art has a powerful role to play in protecting our planet's future.
I have received so much from the beings we share our planet with, and at the end of the day my offering is a simple one – This is how I see them. This is how they made me feel. This is life on earth.