After being introduced to large-format photography at Stanford University (BA 2003), and furthering his studies at Columbia University for his MFA (2010), Gaillard has had a solo show in New York City and has also exhibited in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. His work rose to prominence in his native home of Nantucket, where he has exhibited for over a decade. Gaillard’s unique perspective on the Nantucket landscape has inspired an extensive and devoted collector base, and led many of his collectors to commission photographic excursions to destinations meaningful to them. In his work, Gaillard seeks to reproduce the atmosphere, the air, and the ineffable yet essential qualities of a being in a place rather than focusing on reproducing iconic depictions that constitute the collective knowledge of those places.
The meticulous care with which these images have been made is important to understanding and appreciating Gaillard’s work. The field camera he employs and its 8x10-inch sheets of film make it possible for him print his images at tremendous scale without compromising clarity. But that precision is one side of the equation for Gaillard. Under the dark cloth, behind the ground glass of his massive camera, Gaillard addresses each image as a set of unique problems he must solve, ultimately with the goal of producing a composition that doesn’t fight the two-dimensional plane for which it is intended. “It’s geometric, but also instinctual,” Gaillard says. “Every line, texture, shape, and object in the frame carries a visual and symbolic weight that I need to balance before the picture is taken.” But it’s not a matter of symmetry, he continues, “It’s more a matter of achieving a harmonious balance between those elements.” In so doing, Gaillard’s images embrace the picture plane as opposed to just being a window into another place and time. They are at once detailed records of a place and discrete formal abstractions, oscillating between those poles in dynamic tension.
Gaillard’s work draws parallels with 19th-century landscape-painting traditions, color-field painting, and the New Topographics photography movement. Gaillard explains, “These images do not just function as documents of record, but as conduits of sensation, shifting between representation and abstraction. I hope to compel my audience to perceive the work as they would if they were actually there. You feel a landscape before you see it.”