David Dornan

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David Dornan: Resurrection

June 1, 2019 - Kelly Carper

“The objects in my studio are like a diary,” says Utah painter David Dornan, who collects used jars, dented cans, rusted tools and other abandoned items as future subject matter for his oil paintings. “It’s something that should be in a landfill by now,” he says. “But because it’s in my painting, 500 years from now someone will see it. That’s the destruction and resurrection that has permeated my work for a long time.”

“Resurrection” speaks not only to Dornan’s subject matter but also his creative process; according to the artist, each painting undergoes its own destruction and resurrection in the studio before reaching finality. A painting can change completely from one hour to the next, and often unexpectedly as the artist works with no final imagery in mind. As the viewer, we witness this creative experience through pieces like “Apron,” “Repairs,” “Hamilton Towing” and “Garrett.” In these “paintings of paintings,” a completed Dornan still life hangs in the midst of a chaotic studio environment. Paint splattered walls, toppled jars and strewn brushes symbolize the destruction a painting endures before coming to fruition. When viewing these works, we feel as if we are peeking into the artist’s studio during his creative process - or perhaps more accurately, into the artist’s mind. “It’s a fabricated scene,” says Dornan of his paintings. “The subject isn’t as important to me as the pretense; the objects I paint are just excuses for people to get into the world I’m seeing, which is extremely abstract.”

Other exhibition paintings depict closer views of Dornan’s “diary of objects,” which have been seemingly repurposed as painter’s tools. Tabasco jars, coffee cans and honey bear bottles are splattered or filled with paint, haphazardly arranged in a unique take on a traditional still life. These objects are not chosen randomly; each one has its own story to tell or holds symbolic meaning for the artist. The idea of “Resurrection” has been a long-time influence for Dornan, but it now also represents something more personal. Dornan tragically lost his son last year and has since used the act of painting as a form of therapy. Seemingly ordinary or recurring objects, such as the honey bear jar, have taken on new meaning or metaphor in remembrance of Dornan’s son. “I’m putting in little pieces that have significance or importance to me – things that remind me of him,” he says about his latest paintings. “It’s like looking at a painting that is symbolic of his spirit to me. Memory in painting is everything - and it takes me to a good place.”  

“Resurrection” opens on June 14thand will feature 16 new paintings and several Paint Tube Sculptures. Dornan describes his enlarged, steel paint tubes as “paint being thrown on paint.” Each tube is splattered and squeezed, as if it were plucked straight from the artist’s studio and put on display. Preview these sculptures and Dornan’s new paintings on our website here.


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