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Exploring lives lived and imagined, what we long for and what we obtain, the photographs in What Could Be follow a semi-autobiographical progression of the artist’s explorations of family, societal norms, relationships, and moments of personal discovery in understanding concepts of masculinity.
Hilliard’s diptychs and triptychs conjure a world that begins with our realities but moves beyond. He chooses to see, and to create, beauty in the narratives he imagines for himself, his friends, and striking strangers he encounters. Some of his subjects are frosted with perfect light and rich, dripping colors redolent of the peak of summer; others are subdued, bearing an uncertainty and fragility that so often accompanies the process of self-awareness.
At a time in our culture when millions of people, through photography, “share” and “like” nearly every facet of daily life, in a surface manner that reduces human intimacy and interaction while simultaneously offering the illusion of both, Hilliard’s work beckons us in—to occupy his tableaux, to rest for a moment in the sublime, perhaps escaping our own realities, or revealing the existences we could choose next on our journeys.
David Hilliard’s panoramas direct the viewer’s gaze across the surface—allowing narrative, time and space to unfold. More
Ariel Levy has been a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine since 2008, before which she was a contributing editor at New York magazine for twelve years. More