David Dornan: Solo Exhibition
“I’m particularly interested in the discarded, overlooked item and how I can bring it back to people’s attention - because it’s always going to touch someone’s heart in some way.” David Dornan is a Utah painter whose work embraces destruction and chaos, as his studio still life paintings are littered with arbitrary objects that have been splattered or filled with paint, toppled or heaped together. These imagined scenes are seemingly haphazard and spontaneous, yet are purposeful and symbolic to the artist and ultimately the viewer. Dornan collects and paints familiar objects that inspire memories and stories from his own past, yet are commonplace enough to also resonate with the viewer. Dornan is drawn to paint these nostalgic objects - Campbell’s soup cans, Tabasco bottles, Honey bear jars and more - because of that connection point with the viewer. “I hope that when viewers see these ordinary things, they can interject themselves into the painting and connect it to their life and their experiences,” says Dornan.
Dornan’s current paintings continue to feature this iconic imagery with particular emphasis on the cafeteria/diner style coffee cup. This seemingly insignificant object, often found unwanted in secondhand stores, carries great meaning for Dornan. It transports the artist back to the earliest phase of his painting career when he was fresh out of art school and working in a studio in downtown Salt Lake City. At this time, he was still wrestling with why he became an artist and what to paint, and would spend hours in the studio staring at blank canvases. To take a break from this mental chaos, Dornan would often go to a nearby diner and sit with a cup of coffee, served in an ordinary, green and white striped cup. Here he would watch the goings-on of the space, where the same waitress and regular customers returned each day, before returning to the studio.
Eventually he began inserting the cup into his paintings, collecting them over the years when he spotted them in thrift stores or coffee shops. Now they litter his studio, where he has painted them intermittently over the years. “I’m going back in time a bit by resurrecting these coffee cups,” he says, “it’s like a familiar face I haven’t seen in 20 years. For some reason there seems to be a warmth to them. The objects in my paintings are things that I have felt – and I like that the history of those objects melt in and out of one’s awareness. I haven’t thought of those coffee cups for many years, yet now I’m fascinated by them again.”
David Dornan’s solo exhibition opens on Friday, June 25 from 5-7pm. New paintings are available in the gallery and online at www.meyergalleries.com