by Lee Cutrone via myneworleans.com
David Halliday is a master of still photography. He is known for his captivating portraiture, his still-lifes of exquisite ripened fruit (some with sexual undertones), his ethereal landscapes and his anthropological renderings of ordinary objects. But within the serene stillness of his works lie movement and life.
“I like taking pictures of things – old things, discarded, found, tethered and weathered,” he says. “It’s exciting when you discover something, often exhausted of its value or intent, and are able to give it new life as a photograph. The content in the photographs appears sculptural and objectified, but character always presents itself. Subtle as it is, there’s always a bit of animation.“
Halliday’s work reveals beauty, sensuality, nobility or other qualities that he sees in his subjects. Born in New York and raised in Connecticut, he has spent most of his life exploring art in the world that surrounds him. Encouraged by his mother, who introduced him to the arts, he took after-school studio art classes at a community center and later pursued photojournalism at Syracuse University. Unsatisfied by his college studies, he moved to Manhattan and began working in restaurant kitchens, putting photography on hold. Moves to Boston, Chicago and Nantucket followed, and in 1991, he relocated to New Orleans to help assist a chef in a French Quarter restaurant and reinvigorate his photography pursuits. With a body of work that spans more than 20 years, he is represented locally by Arthur Roger Gallery. His 2013 show, “Thread Bare,” included photographs and large-scale photo collages of objects that “speak to a fading America.” (For example, nautical artifacts which address the country’s eroding coastlines).
Elements of Halliday’s formal education and his life experience are evident in his work. His series of black and white and color still-lifes of fruits and vegetables show influences of Renaissance and early 20th-century still-lifes. He counts painters like Cotan, Carravaggiio and Morandi and photographers Steichen, Disfarmer and Weston among those whose aesthetics he admires. “I learned a lot in terms of differentiating between finding things to photograph out in the world and those in a home space setting,” he says. But the greatest influence on his work in recent years is his own home, a tall, narrow 1880s residence in the Irish Channel. The hands-on requirements of caring for it have fed his creative spirit. “I’ve contrived my living space in a way that incubates that studio moment,”’ says Halliday. “I’m always fixing things, arranging things, attempting to put things in order, watching the light as it changes throughout the day. It’s this type of engagement that most often leads to my picture-making process.”