Painting of the Day

16 Feb

The Transfer - Michael Bell

The Transfer. by Michael Bell (born 1971). Oil on canvas, 2008. 

Notes from 

In “Ticket to Ride” Michael Bell created a cinematic painting series as a journey through one woman’s harrowing search for redemption, only nothing inspires redemption quite like revenge.

“The Transfer” is the first of nine large-format mixed-media paintings that range from emotionally-driven portraits as allegories reminiscent of dramatic film-stills to dark, ambiguous hotel room scenes and metropolitan landscapes on 60″ X 60″ canvases overlaid with mixed-media subway maps painted into the background of each work. Bell’s narrative strategy is for the viewer to question how much of Ticket to Ride is just a dream, and how much is rooted in reality. Its major movement is the journey taken by an Italian Femme Fetale that begins on a New York City subway platform in Scene 1, “The Transfer” as she awaits her metaphorical “train” and her journey continues — painting by painting — like a roller coaster ride through her mind.

My comments:

Using several paintings to spell out a narrative is not a completely new idea, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Two series of narrative paintings that I can think of right now include the series of paintings depicting Jesus’ life by Giotto in 1304-6 for the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy, and the four paintings done by Jean-Honore Fragonard called the Pursuit of Love. But both of these narrative series rely on stories that actually occurred or are just simply part of human culture. Neither of them really requires the artist to be a creative writer as well. But Michael Bell’s fascinating narrative series of nine paintings does rely on the artist’s narrative and artistic imagination. He is wielding words as much as he wields paint with these artworks. This is the first painting in the series, and for the next eight days I’ll post each of the paintings in the narrative. 

Bell’s paintings are very haunting and unsettling. It’s almost too disquieting to think about them for too long. He has a very interesting way of mark-making, similar to that of an illustrator. It’s interesting how he has the woman figure’s very large head just float there, as if separated from its body. 

One Response to “Painting of the Day”

  1. tara February 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    she has a big nose.

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