Cave Lovers is an ode to the romance, passion and inexperience of love at first sight. What would this look like through the eyes of someone who has never known it? These idealized, unattainable feelings can hit like magic when they finally touch you. What would you be compelled to create upon feeling these sensations for the first time?
Cave Lovers came about by the artist’s playful arrangements with organic shapes much like how the first cave painters of the Paleolithic began to commemorate life events on a cave wall. A series of experiments comprised of eyes, heads and figures rendered in organic and geometric shapes interact in works that verge on the abstract. In this way Spencer adds moments of humor, the grotesque, fantasy and always, sincerity.
For Spencer the most interesting part of experimentation is how abstract and representational shapes interact and intertwine with each other and how that relationship can be expressed in a beautiful way. It is as if one line communicates with another and another and another. Soon it is a conversation. An idea reminiscent of storytelling around a fire in the days before the invention of language.
Layering is present in the work; it is something that both obscures and paradoxically reveals what is underneath. At times, this is only because Spencer makes us reconcile visual and textual information. Perhaps this is below the surface of seeing through relationships as they relate to the open-ended nature of his investigations. Spencer’s paintings aren’t titled (simply numbered), and for all his attention to detail and painterly refinement, they seem to arrive as much through a controlled experiment as through pure intuition.
When describing the artistic process, Spencer compares his studio practice to the experience of first love: “I have the same reverence for materials. As I pulverize mica and sandstone, apply smoke and start blending colors and textures, it really becomes a practice in finding balance. Since I design in reverse, a finished piece is only fully revealed to me when I turn it over and then I can see the layers I have carefully constructed. I can finally see what has worked and what I would like to, but ultimately cannot, change”. The manifestation of creating aesthetic beauty out of mere rocks and pigment would have seemed impossible to the cave painters of Lascaux.
It is in this way that Spencers works are infused with magic and given an almost primitive,mystical quality, inviting the viewer on an archaeological dig through the intimacy of his process. Exploring his work reveals what is otherwise elusive but can somehow be made visible yet remains unseen; attempting to create universal way to share his romantic vision with others.
Cave Lovers is about trying until you get it right, in both art and love.
Doug Spencer (b. 1980) is a self-taught interdisciplinary artist living and working in Denver, Colorado. He has previously shown at Leon gallery “The Shadow Knows” in 2016. This is his first solo exhibition in Denver.
Cave Lovers runs from April 6-30, 2018
Visit Cave Lovers in person or in our online store ( :