New YorkDavid Hilliard: Just So
Yancey Richardson presents Just So, David Hilliard’s sixth exhibition with the gallery since 2003. Hilliard’s work is rooted in the deeply personal, elevating the everyday to the sublime through formal and conceptual techniques borrowed from theater, film and other modes of storytelling.
Presented as large-scale, multi-paneled photographs, the works in this exhibition explore complex, universal narratives through the examination of the artist’s own relationships with family, friends, muses, lovers and strangers alike. Each portrait comprises a number of images employing different focal points, converging multiple perspectives into a single scene, and in turn, multiple variations of reality. Hilliard takes the personal and familiar and manipulates them to provide a commentary on larger issues such as masculinity, aging, sexuality, and spirituality, striking a balance between autobiography and fiction.
The photographs themselves portray the people in Hilliard’s life in private moments of contemplation, vulnerability, and seduction, captured with an intimacy that calls into question the relationship between photographer and subject. We see David and his father, quietly embracing by an entryway door; a young man drying his face, possibly after a shower, next to an open window, deep in thought; a shirtless man smoking in the kitchen, gazing directly at the viewer, his hand on his head in a pose of sexual openness. The distance created is visceral, the details sensual. There are shadows and reflections, repetitions of shapes and motifs, as in a poem, inviting associations and connections between the people, places and feelings they emote.
The exhibition’s title, Just So, refers to a state of being where everything is arranged neatly and in its proper place. Alternatively, a “just-so story” is a tale that is speculative and unverifiable. For Hilliard, the ability to see something, as if for the first time, imbues his imagery with a sense of both idealism and illusion. Ultimately, his camera serves as an intermediary, creating a space between himself and a world he longs to understand.
David Hilliard (b. 1964) lives and works in Boston. He received his MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 1994. A recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and Fulbright Grant, he has been a visiting lecturer at numerous schools, including Harvard University, Dartmouth College, the Art Institute of Boston, and the National Young Arts Foundation. His work is included in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others.Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York