Ronald Davis - Artist
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Notes on Yellow Hinge

by Barbara Bentley

Ronald Davis, Yellow Hinge, 2001

Last night I walked into the studio in a state of suppressed excitement and curiosity, because Ron has begun working again and I wanted to see if he had made anything new. It was hard to see where I was going, you know, because it's really dark out there and hard to find your way down that flagstone path. I opened the studio door, and was immediately dazzled and blown away with color and light.... He was in there, all right, dusted with plastic shavings and full of paint drips, looking happy and obsessed and surrounded by new paintings in various stages of completion. He started talking to me, telling me about the new material, and the trials he's having with paint and gel and metallic additives. But I could barely listen to him, because my peripheral vision was being invaded by this flash of brightness and motion, and I kept wanting to look to my left. An intense, animated little painting was hanging over there, and, for lack of a better explanation, it was trying to get my attention. I felt I needed to listen to Ron, but I kept having to look over at this lively little gem practically waving at me to get my attention away from Ron and onto IT. Finally I had to say to Ron, "Just a minute," and I laughed and pointed and said "WHAT is THAT? I gotta go LOOK," I says, and go over to greet the painting. It's about three feet tall, intense gold-yellow and charcoal, shaped, made of triangles and a 4-sided polygon, and there's something unusual going on because it's not his usual style, although there is typical color mastery and perspective illusion. This painting is completely gestural, and witty, with all this mysterious energy in it; its middle is sort of torqued, so there's a potential/kinetic spring to it. I fell in love with it immediately, forgot my studio manners and blurted out "No, really, what are you DOING?"

"Oh, it's just scraps from off the floor," he says nonchalantly-like-a-fox, taking a drag from a cigarette.

"Huh," I say, pondering "scraps off the floor."

"Yeah, scraps." [Leftover pieces from cutting out the shapes of the works in the NuShape Series from 4 x 8 sheets of the PVC support I am using.] "From the bigger shapes. It's for fun. Something I just started doing in-between the big paintings. I don't draw them, I just fit them together as they come. It's just a dumb hinge," he laughs. "It's Yellow Hinge."

"Well keep having fun," I say earnestly. "I think you're on to something."

"Oh, well, I don't know. Maybe," he says, with that edge of doubt he sometimes uses to hide glee.

Today I was helping Ron rewrite a paragraph in the press release about this new series, and we made some discoveries that I loved. For instance, in skimming Jung looking for a good art word, I came across a reference to alchemy and its connection (in Jung's mind) to Christ's attempt at the union of spirit and matter in the creative process. Jung had a dream-vision, of Christ made out of green-gold shiny stuff, which he called a satisfying representation of matter (metal, the gold) united with life (the greeny part), and a symbol of spiritual transcendence. Reference to Christ might be too strong, but it immediately struck me, because to me it feels a lot like what Ron's been experiencing – the terrible struggle to hold the tension of opposites, and achieve creative unity or balance via process and production. Jung goes on about the "uncommon gold", the "spiritual gold" that eventuates when spirit and matter harmonize... Well -- the GOLD blew my mind because his Yellow Hinge, that pivotal little painting, did you see it yet? seems like a turning point where his occult process has been expressed; its authentic POINT emerged, if you will; it's spread-eagled, or kind of winged; it's "torqued"; and Ron is very fond of a new greeny-gold acrylic color this year... (made by GOLDEN paints!) [Yellow Hinge is in fact painted with Yellow-Gold Golden acrylic paint– about the same time I was working on Open Rectilinar Box which does have a Green-Gold coloured top, and it is one of my favorite colours. RD] Given that, plus the fact that this painting came "up off the floor," and is very spontaneous in its conception, I have to say I think it's a psychic marker and an artistic move forward, which he's been desperate for. It excited me and made me happy about Yellow Hinge, that's all. Happy for Ron.

— Barbara Bentley

Violet and Green Hinge, 2001
Black and Blue Hinge, 2001
Black and Red Hinge, 2001
Blue-Violet Slab, 2001
Two Square Pinch Post, 2001


Open Rectilinar Box, 2001