Tart, oil on canvas
Flowers from Another Year, oil on canvas, 52" by 52"
We might say that the characterizing feature of David Dorsey’s style is its variety and variability. Dorsey’s work moves easily from a tight, hard-line realism to a loose and painterly manner of depiction. The style of the work never seems a characteristic of the artist himself but a device chosen to best achieve his end of making us see more intensely the thing depicted. And the same may be said of his compositions, which usually present us commonplace objects seen in non-commonplace perspectives or in unusual scale. For this painter, size does indeed matter.
His in-your-face depictions of jelly beans, cupcakes, hamburgers and other common food stuffs on wall-size canvases not only gives these items an unexpected monumentality but combines our gustatory and olfactory associations with a heightened visual awareness of color, pattern, and texture. Our reaction is one of combined familiarity and difference as all elements of our sensorium are brought into play. The effect is heightened when we cumulatively view versions of the same object. In his “candy jar” paintings, the style of the paintings varies considerably, the palette varies considerably, the size varies considerably, and even the candies themselves vary considerably. The cumulative effect is analogous to the “theme and variations” in music. The theme becomes increasingly transparent as we become transfixed by the variations. In Dorsey’s “Candy Jar Diptych,” moreover, our initial reaction is to see the diptych as the same image reproduced in tandem, a reaction cultivated in part by the loose brushwork of the painting. Upon closer inspection, however, we notice that the colors of the candies are different in each of the jars. Even closer observation tells us that the placement of the candies is different in each of the jars, prompting the viewer into a compulsive collation of the two jars.
Another of Dorsey’s serial subjects involves a table-top still life. The items on the table are not viewed laterally, however, but vertically. This strikes us as a very unusual perspective on the objects until we consider that this is the way that we do, in fact, see objects on a table. We normally see objects standing above them rather than at eye-level. Thus, Dorsey’s perspective makes us question the convention of still life representation itself, which normally views items in a manner in which they are not usually seen in life. Although we may come to accept that this is a “more real” way of depicting objects, it is clear that Dorsey’s aim is not realism per se. The arrangement of these objects in Dorsey’s paintings stands out as pure contrivance. Objects are carefully spaced about the table, and books are upturned so that their titles and authors become readable as a commentary upon the painting itself. Even the table is arranged so that its corner corresponds to the intersecting borders of the carpets beneath. The pattern of the oriental carpet beneath the table is not blurred so as to suggest a distance from the table. Instead, it shares a sharp linearity with the objects on the table. As we stare at the composition, the white table cloth begins to recede and the sharp definition of the rug to come forward, setting up a kind of vibration in the work. The overall effect, once again, is not to suggest a “real” depiction of objects but to focus our concentration, making us see the objects depicted more intensely than we normally might.
Stacked Taffy, oil on canvas
Begonias and Dahlias, oil on canvas
Breakfast with Golden Raspberries, oil on canvas
Still Life in Red, Blue, and Yellow, oil on linen
Breaking Free / Cutting Loose, oil on canvas
Onion on a Carved Table, oil on canvas
Emptiness and Form, oil on canvas
Still Life with Pocket Door, oil on canvas
Frostbitten Dahlias, oil on canvas
Carpe Diem, oil on linen
Candy Jar # 15, oil on canvas, 52" by 52"
Oil Can and Mangoes, oil on canvas
Big Mac for Emily, oil on canvas, 40" x 40"
Carnations and Jelly Beans, oil on canvas, 40" x 36"
Vanitas: Skull Unearthed circa 1930, oil on linen
Candy Jars, a Diptych, oil on linen, 18" x 36"
Prices available on request