Painting of the Day

19 Feb

The Ring - Michael Bell

The Ring. 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 Ring” is the third 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 awaiting her metaphorical “train” and her journey continues — painting by painting — like a roller coaster ride through her mind.

In Scene 3, “The Ring” the subway station is flooding with an avalanche of water symbolic of an extreme emotional outpour as an emergency phone dangles off the hook.

My comments:

So coming back to the 9-part narrative paintings that I started last week, this painting seems a bit unrelated to the first two paintings that I’ve posted so far. It appears that the series revolves a lot around the subway in New York City. There’s also the sense that a murder is occurring since there’s a lot of emotional turmoil evoked in all the paintings and there was an actual smoking gun in the second painting. So is the murderer trying to use the subway to escape? Is the woman in the first painting the murderer, the victim, or a witness?

Interestingly, Bell has framed the main part of his composition within a frame that he drew within the canvas, filling up the outside of this frame with the blurry paint as well as the dripping lines. It’s interesting to me personally because in my studio art class, we’ve been instructed to draw a frame on the paper we use and limit our artwork to this inside of this frame, rather than use the edge of the page as a frame. This has required us as artists, therefore, to consider how to treat this frame and use it for the overall effect of our artpiece, which is something I’ve never considered since paintings usually extend to the edges of the canvas because the artist would cut away any extra canvas that they didn’t want to paint on. But Bell includes the rest of the canvas, and this peripheral element becomes as much a part of the artwork as the main subject. It would now seem strange to see the artwork without this decorated “frame” of sorts that surrounds it.

One Response to “Painting of the Day”

  1. tara February 20, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    you spelled the word because incorrectly

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