I feel bad about sometimes being so behind on discovering new things around town. The work of Hayley Gaberlavage, is one of those times when I regret not learning about her sooner.I’ll never forget the first time I saw a photo of Hayley standing in the middle of her Magazine Street gallery/workspace. My eyes were bugging like Ren (not stumpy) while staring into what could have been confused with a Wallpaper Magazine spread from before Katrina. I was quickly able to pull focus away from her interior space and focus on the fantastically unique painted portraits that adorned her walls. I couldn’t wait to learn more about this Mies Van der Rohe loving and terribly talented artist.
It’s hard to explain the feeling and emotion that humans feel when they come across something so unique and interesting. The same reaction I had to seeing my first Elliott Erwitt urban photographs, or some of Mark Seliger’s early Rolling Stone work, was right in-line with my first interaction with Hayley’s work. To be perfectly honest, Hayley’s work in regards to photography, reminds me very much of William Eggleston’s greatest works in color photography.
I’m especially in love with her portraits. As I can imagine, most artists begin a portrait with some sort of inspiration in mind and/or in hand. Be it a photograph, or still from a film, or a distinct memory from the past. Where Hayley excels in my opinion is her ability to capture and transmit that person(s) best available expression within that moment in time. She improvs her way to imagining and locking in that moment with each stroke.
During my visit with Hayley, while chatting about life, music, and of course mid-century furniture, I looked around and realized the one element that truly sets her work apart…it’s her calculated use of mostly solid yet perfectly contrasting backgrounds. Like many of the great portrait photographs captured in time, it’s the background to foreground separation that gives them that true to life effect. Hayley’s technique and brilliantly simple use of contrast, sends me over the moon.