Intuitive Geometries: Del Rey Loven
Douglas Max Utter

      Del Rey Loven’s shaped paintings allude to transcendent function and movement through subtle,
suspenseful alignments of shape and color. Often they seem perched at the verge of miraculous action, of
revelation. It’s as if reality’s lost dimensions, tucked in the creases of physical law since the Big Bang, are
blooming just behind Loven’s puzzle-like, interlocking, supple surfaces. His acrylic paint spreads roughly or
smoothly over compressed layers of paper, as secrets press outward or recede, rhythmically from top to
bottom and side to side like waves in a geometric sea. At times his collaged objects are deliberately coarse,
like the 7’/8’ Trans-Neptunian Object, slammed together as if from the rock and inner fire of broken planets,
hurtling through aesthetic space.  But in every work Loven pushes and releases form and color, line and
texture, suspiring in deep rhythm.  The three ellipses that constitute “Epiphany” 1, 2, and 3, each have four
points around their perimeters, like vestigial corners. A closer look reveals that these are the tips of
overlapping arcs, clues to a tightly composed inner structure. They serve to catch and hold the elliptical
form, stopping its endless rotation as they snag in the surrounding space, like claws or thorns.
      Another aspect of Loven’s art at Lesko Gallery’s “Intuitive Geometries” exhibit is seen in a pair of
modified rectangles titled “JFK Elegy”.  An imposing eight feet tall and four and a half feet wide, they’re
scooped out at a couple of corners in short, graceful curves as if by a lathe. Modernist yet also
archeological in tone, they shimmer like black marble in subtly varying hues of phthalo  blue, applied as a
field of round marks -- the size of fingerprints or bullet holes, or the first drops of a hard rain.  These works
are Loven’s Elegy for John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and it helps to know this, as their complex
surfaces shimmer in the available light and begin to take on a sculptural presence, like colossal abstract
portrait busts.
      Del Rey Loven proposes forms that could represent Platonic ideas, objects that exist beyond the far
edge of human concepts of function, containing within themselves the features of eternity.   Independent
and sovereign phenomena, they’re bred by the magic of juxtaposition and alignment from the planes and
shades of essential, painted geometric forms.
      Since the late 1970’s Loven’s several abstract series have touched on many of the dominant modes of
late modernism.  At times akin to the powerful formal simplicity  of  Ellsworth Kelly, or at another extreme (as
in Loven’s “Asteroid” series) like the haptic, layered and painted constructions of Frank Stella, Loven’s
objects carry a sense of formal inevitability that is entirely their own. He has pointed to Georges Braque,
and particularly to that seminal Modernist’s more purely cubist work, as an indispensible source and
model.  All of Loven’s work deals with the shifting unities of layered geometric forms. He fits his sectional
shapes tightly together, then continues to tweak the poetics of their interrelation.  In the case of the three
Epiphany paintings this is particularly clear, because of the way they seem to breathe and move. Their
animated appearance evokes a range of associations, from intuitions of subcutaneous musculature to the
shifting of tectonic plates. At bottom these objects are examples showing how the universe is driven by
powerful, subtle inner forces and interactions – and by that sheer greatness of scale and spirit which has
been called the Sublime.
      Del Rey Loven’s paintings belong to the heroic project which has defined much of modern art since its
origins, to evoke and connect with the Sublime, written large and with a capital ‘S’. Loven shares the
concerns of many seminal American abstract painters – Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell,  Mark Rothko,
Clyfford Still to name a few – in that the sheer grandeur of the human spirit and of natural beauty are
among his subjects. But a work such as Loven’s “Elijah’s Mantle” reaches even farther, back through the
darkness and mystery of history to the origins of spiritual power. “Elijah’s Mantle” is similar to Loven’s
Epiphany ellipses, except that it’s a bit larger and is designed in the form a tondo; perfectly round, it’s 65
inches in circumference, a “gestural” distance as the abstract expressionists described this size range,
comparable to the measure between the fingertips at the end of outstretched arms; it derives from the
personal, physical core of spiritual experience, reaching to meet, to match the divine. In the Hebrew bible
the prophet Elijah wraps his mantle (his cloak, perhaps a poncho-like garment) around his head when he is
in communion with God, or folds it to strike the waters so that they part for him,as for Moses.  When he is
taken up to heaven the mantle with its powers passes on to his successor, Elisha. Loven’s Mantle is
painted in close values of deep red, like heart’s blood, and made up of interlocking forms, again
reminiscent of cubist compositions especially in its implication that beauty and truth derive from the
interaction of shapes, perimeters, and the heavier beating of visual volumes. The painting presents a vision
of parts just at the moment they solve their separateness, as though the world was a lock, and the dance of
line and hue was the key. Loven’s vision of the Sublime is one in which the complexity of sensual
experience becomes a map of the streets of the city of God.
Elijah's Mantle Del Rey Loven (60"/60")