Still lifes and other oppositions

Jelly Bean Bullets, detail, oil on linen

Treaty: Jelly Bean Bullets, detail, oil on linen

It just occurred to me I ought to post this, since it’s about me and my solo show opening in a week at Viridian Artists. Blogs are so much work; you have to, like, stay on top of everything. Yellow Tail will be served. Cat Casual will play guitar, which is why I’ll be showing up.

DAVID DORSEY “Polarities: No Ideas But In Things”

JUNE 10 – JUNE 28, 2014, Reception, Thursday, JUNE 12, 6 – 8 pm.

In his first solo in his three years as a member at Viridian, David Dorsey’s painting dwells on humble objects or commonplace scenes that bear little conceptual weight, yet in the way they come together for this exhibit, he shows how they can evoke life’s vital oppositions: life and death, dark and light, innocence and experience. Each individual painting, considered alone, represents an exploration of purely perceptual concerns, exploring how all the most traditional elements of painting—light, color, form, and the physical quality of paint—can trigger an immediate apprehension of life as a whole, in ways that words can’t reach.

“I like to focus on things and moments that might be so common, they’re taken for granted, so that you have a fresh impression of what you might see every day,” he says. “Jelly beans. A white clam sauce jar. A cheap stainless steel cream pitcher I bought at Wegman’s. Dahlias I grow for next to nothing by wintering the tubers in my basement and replanting them every spring. The skulls would otherwise be sitting in a box forgotten, somewhere in a college lab. The diaper pins I store in the clam sauce jar. But bullet casings you can buy in bulk from Etsy.”

Completed over the past five years, these eighteen paintings express basic oppositions, sometimes ironically, sometimes literally. The ideas are secondary and usually arise after the work is done. In choosing subjects, Dorsey is concerned with perceptual qualities. As William Carlos Williams put it, “No ideas but in things.” Dorsey lives and works in upstate New York, has shown his work extensively in the U.S. as well as in Europe. He has won various awards, and his work is represented in collections throughout the U.S. He writes regularly about art at Manifest has published his criticism.

“Eggplant and Bok Choy” and “Still Life with Pocket Door” are painted so vividly with almost unreal, vibrant colors that they seize viewers’ attention, enticing with beautiful freshness. The living is cast against the long departed with his third painting, “Skull Unearthed Circa 1930,” a stark work of a pale room washed in clean light with a weathered skull propped atop a cardboard box. The quietude of the work is enhanced greatly by the single black audio speaker sitting silently on a shelf and the nearly toothless, gaping maw of the human remains. —Rebecca Rafferty

 In David Dorsey’s “Skull Unearthed Circa 1930″, the shipping box, scribble-marked “actual human skull”, presents the decapitated human remains in the . . . incongruous setting of a breezy open spring window. Study the sockets and cavities of the sculpted toothless mandible as the artist did in an intricately painted, multiple ridged landscape. One . . . is engrossed in the painter’s facility and fascination with his subject. –Marline Steel, AEQUI

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