The Tale is True
Through February 16, 2013
David Hilliard has returned to a familiar subject- the father-son relationship with new work The Tale is True
. We begin on poetic ground with the work's title, drawn from The Seafarer
, an Old English elegy which tells the story of an old seafarer facing the hardships of his past in an attempt to create meaning out of his life. In this new chapter of father-son tale, among other familial relationships, we see Hilliard examine the dynamics of family ties and attempt to weigh, sort out, or at least remember these moments.
Hilliard has always engaged symbol and used the specific to speak to the general; his multi-paneled panoramas (polyptychs) in form and size alone speak to history and legacy. The prints engage traditions in paining where mythical or religious histories were splayed on large canvases; in them allegories and symbols gave clues to and enrich the visual story. Hillard too calls on narrative and metaphor in the same way, and for him philosophical and spiritual themes unravel. Though we feel a strong sense of presence in the work we can't ignore the feeling that something is slipping away. Sensations move between celabratory and a sort of clinging- to hope.
Aging evolves into an important theme in this series and we see our narrator looking both at his aging father and himself in new context. There is a particularly strong sense of longing to this series- a remembering and a saving, a harvest of moment, and a preserving of memory. We see a flash of youth remembered in When Lips and Skin Remember
where Hilliard's parents embrace in the family pool. A moment of winter's harvest in Pomelos
where Hilliard's mother pulls ripe frute from the tree and his father sits cutting into its flesh in the shade. There is something Eden-like to this work but quite definitely fleeting. We engage the fate of us all, we watch the wheel turn on the cycle of life, and maybe we even wonder at our own position on it.
For more information on the exhibition please visit Yancey Richardson GalleryNew Yorker Review