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David Dornan: The Story of a Still Life

June 5, 2017

Meyer Gallery: Dornan Blog Post

June 2017

David Dornan: The Story of a Still Life

“I think my work is most effective when it serves as a springboard for someone else’s emotion.”

David Dornan paints dynamic still life motifs of everyday objects; overturned paint cups, huddled vases and delicate roses are common subjects for the Utah-based artist. His paintings are free of philosophical metaphors or underlying narratives – they are simply snapshots from the artist’s mind, paint splatter and all. Dornan paints objects that are familiar to him, such as exquisite flowers from his own garden or messy paintbrushes from his studio, with the hope that the viewer will respond to their familiarity with personal associations or emotions. “Artists are always looking for good subjects,” says Dornan. “ But there is no good subject. I just want people to look at a piece that I’ve painted and think about their world differently.”

One of Dornan’s first still life paintings came from the midst of a mental block. Preparing for his first show and unsure of what to paint, he removed his boots from his feet and decided he would replicate the wrinkled, worn leather in an oil painting. The painting of the artist’s boots sold quickly, not to an affluent art collector but to a man who owned a local boot repair shop. “I had painted those boots straightforward enough that a guy who had repaired boots his entire life actually thought they were beautiful,” recalls Dornan. This act of truly seeing an object that we simply look at everyday is Dornan’s humble invitation to those who encounter his paintings.

Dornan’s authentic connection to his subject matter and interest in the history of objects is the basic inspiration for deciding what to paint. The idea for his machine paintings, such as “Crank I,” stemmed from an intriguing stack of old carburetors at a local auto repair shop. He asked if he could borrow one to paint. “People think that because something is an icon or is valuable that it’s worth painting,” says Dornan. “But that carburetor was a lost thing of the past. There’s an entire history that doesn’t reveal itself immediately.”

Dornan’s painterly presence is evident throughout his work, pulling the viewer back to reality when they encounter unexpected smears of paint or smudged fingerprints throughout the composition. “Beyond everything, I love the process of painting,” says the artist.

 Dornan’s solo exhibition opens on June 16th with an opening reception from 5-7pm. Preview the show in his online exhibition catalog.


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