Ronald Davis
"Wax Series: 1995-1996" THE Magazine, March 1998, Santa Fe, New Mexico
A review by Christine Hemp

Encaustic Arch, 1996

Encaustic Arch, 1996, 91 x 95 inches, Encaustic Wax and Pigment on wood, Wax Series, (PTN 1016)


dotGeometry 101 must have been a breeze for Ron Davis. His fascination with geometric shapes has sustained his career since the '60s. Cool corners and intersecting points are his trademark and they're stamped firmly into the current paintings on wood at Jaquelin Loyd, the new cutting-edge gallery in Taos.

A first impression leaves the viewer wondering when Davis will depart from his old obsession (can't he move beyond the triangles?), but a closer look reveals subtle change: Davis has ventured into the world of encaustic surfaces, as if in his sixth decade he's moving toward softness—like aging skin. I surreptitiously smoothed my palm over the surface planes of The Wave and felt the thick red, mauve, wheat, and deep Mediterranean blues. He applies encaustic wax and pigment to the wood, then arranges the puzzle parts, fooling the viewer into seeing the finished pieces as three- rather than two-dimensional. Spool, for example, is made from about 15 pieces, each part shaded and colored in gradation to suggest curves. The "icing" makes you swear they'd taste like lime, mango, or grape (I didn't try that one).

I prefer, however, the pieces which hint at movement: arches and bridges. In Four Part Bridge, Encaustic Arch, and Five Panel, Frame, multicolored sections of wood look as if they buckle and curve like Chinese toys. They give the illusion of spanning empty space, not surprising from an artist who lives on the lip of the Rio Grande Gorge. Davis's interest in structural shapes spills over into his own living quarters where he has built studio dwellings based upon the Navajo hogan. His work at Jaquelin Loyd reflects such architectural precision—no ragged edges. Some pieces are also like lessons in perspective. Two Color Block One consists of one olive and one magenta piece configured to appear as a block though they are flat. The olive section acts as the shaded side. The track lighting throws a real-life shadow behind the piece, too, creating another layer of depth.

After seeing this show, I was thirsty for something more than shape and precision. The paintings are stark, without emotion. Yet to see Davis's mind in motion is to see what his art is about: He possesses the cool ideals of mathematics, and he works from the assumption that the world is a structured and balanced place, its forms constant.


Christine Hemp
THE Magazine
March 1998

Ronald Davis: Wax Series: 1996-1997
at Jaquelin Loyd Gallery, Ranchos de Taos, NM