May 25 — July 13, 2019

Suspicious Packages

David Canright



Conduit Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Dallas-based artist, David Canright.

Not long after the events of September 11th, 2001, David Canright came across a child’s backpack, bright, playful and abandoned on the street. He retrieved it, to the horror of onlookers, and determined it had simply been lost by an innocent tyke. “You could have been killed!” some fellow pedestrian bemused, portending that innocent objects should now be treated as potential weapons of mass destruction. That moment stuck with him.

Suspicious Packages, Canright’s new body of work, is a series of pastel drawings of just that: curious objects that have been haphazardly wrapped in a variety of materials, and tied off with rope, left alone on train platforms and bathroom stalls. They each carry their own personality, several even have a bit of something poking its head out of the rubble. They all suggest a story, but don’t go much farther than that. The perspective is that of an onlooker stooped over curiously, like we’re seeing these pieces in the location that they have been dropped off. Tension surrounds these images, in the taut folds of plastic and paper, and in the austere mystery of not knowing who or what they were meant for.

Canright has a power for conveying a message that is as relevant in today’s world as it is open to interpretation. He speaks of how a simple package, sent through the mail, has changed in a short few years. We receive more packages than ever before, thanks to Amazon and FedEx, and yet we’re suspicious and flighty around them instead of joyful. The works are also an evolution of the still life, an art form that usually depicts objects that serve a poetic meaning. Here, we can’t see any objects; the still life is hidden, yet the composition still stands as a metaphor.

The pieces are luxuriously rendered in pastel, without any glass between the viewer and the surface. Coming closer and closer, eventually one realizes how delicate the powdered surface is, recoiling in horror at the prospect of oiling it up with hands or a wayward nose. The artist is commenting on how much fear is loaded into life, and yet, how fear can be alluring. “It’s about making beautiful things that you have suspicions of”, says Canright. In a way, being afraid is a pleasing experience.

David Canright is an artist and writer born in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied painting under Peter Saul. Canright spent his early career in New York City, exhibiting at the Clementine Gallery, the Drawing Center, Yale University Gallery, and White Columns among other venues. Although known primarily for large-scale and figurative oil paintings, his more recent projects have been works on paper in ink, pastel, and watercolor. He currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas.

Artists in this Exhibition

Artist Video