All Hope is Lost
Titled All Hope Is Lost, the series depicts the solar eclipse that was visible from North America on August 21, 2017. Travelling to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Loeb used a hydrogen alpha telescope with an attached camera to observe and record the two minute and twenty-two second phenomenon. The artist devoted the next 20 months to painting the observations, using his meticulous approach to freeze the fleeting moments and to invite viewers to consider the seemingly eternal existence of the sun in relation to the ephemerality of the eclipse.
“Stopping the movement of the sun and the moon, Loeb creates an image of an extended present which we can contemplate in our own time,” writes Dr. Robert Shane, professor of art history at the College of St. Rose, in his catalogue essay for the series. “In response to this realization, Loeb offers us through his paintings a point of contact, of sensory intimacy, allowing us to survive, for a time, the inhumanity of the cosmos.”
The series’ title, All Hope Is Lost, derives from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, where the phrase both alludes to humanity’s contemplation of mortality, and more concretely is used to describe the moment of greatest peril before the archetypal hero reemerges victorious. The dramatic moments rendered in these paintings reflect the fine line between optimism and defeat, good and evil, and light and dark. For the artist, this series represents his most intimate and political work to date.