following piece about Ronald Davis and his early resin works is excerpted
from an exhibition catalog entitled Art. Inc: Americans Paintings
From Corporate Collections, published in 1979 by Art Inc., a
division of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama. The publication
accompanied the traveling exhibition of the same name. Art Inc.:
American Paintings from Corporate Collections, was mounted during
1979 at The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama; The Corcoran
Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Indianapolis Museum of Art,
Indianapolis, Indiana; and The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego,
California. Henry Flood Robert, Jr., Director of the Mongomery Museum
of Fine Arts, remarked in the foreword, "It is our hope that Art
Inc. will play a significant role in encouraging the continued
growth and quality of the interaction between business and the visual
his early works, Ron Davis expressed the cool, sophisticated attitude
of the younger generation of Los Angeles artists who specialized
in hard-edge geometric shapes, strong coloration, reflective surfaces,
and experimentation with new materials.
in California in 1936, Davis spent part of his youth in Cheyenne,
Wyoming. After studying engineering at the University of Wyoming
in 1955-1956, he worked at a variety of odd jobs and began painting
in 1959. He returned to California in 1960 to study at the San Francisco
Art Institute. Five years later, Davis moved from San Francisco to
Los Angeles, where he had his first one-man show at the Nicolas Wilder
Gallery. Since that time, he has received widespread recognition.
uses perspective to create the illusion that the canvas is a solid
geometric object. The effect is quite different from that created
by traditional Renaissance perspective which aims to produce a realistic
scene. In Davis's work, the goal is to depict the object not in relation
to its surroundings but abstracted from them and viewed in isolation
on the white ground of a blank wall. Even the painting's relationship
to the wall is minimized as much as possible; rather than hanging
on it, the painting juts out from it. The viewer feels somehow unrelated
to Davis's works, for their perspective creates the sensation of
leaning forward or standing upside down. Disorientation on the part
of the viewer also arises from the contrast between the illusion
of depth supplied by the perspective and the painting's actual flatness.
Other ambiguities arise from the non-rectangular canvases and from
the use of color to suggest transparency of the actually solid objects.
Davis sometimes embeds areas of gestural painting in an abstract
expressionist style under layers of transparent resin.
polyester resin paintings, such as Cube III, were begun
in 1966. Davis started by taking a flat formica mold on which the
illusionary planes were demarcated with tape. The polyester resin
was then mixed with a variety of pigments, dyes, mirror flake, aluminum
or bronze powder, pearl essence, and glitter, and applied in successive
layers beginning with the one nearest the viewer. Fiberglass impregnated
with resin was then laminated to the back to provide support, and
a wooden stretcher bar in the shape of the object was added; only
then was the painting peeled off the mold and polished and the image
viewed by the artist for the first time. This basic technique was
varied and refined over several years as Davis progressed from early,
simple forms like Cube III to more complex geometric configurations.
He abandoned this medium in 1972 for reasons of aesthetics and also
due to health risks associated with the resins. Davis has returned
to using traditional paint on canvas [and expanded PVC. – Editor]
and continues to explore problems of spatial illusion and color through
the use of complex geometric forms.