T R E V O R
B E L L
T R E V O R
B E L L
L I N K
To write on the paintings of Trevor Bell is both a joy and challenge. For decades, Trevor Bell has delighted and enriched us with his passion for painting, mastery of gesture and sublime colour. The recent paintings, so evocative of the changing moods of nature and light, are a breath of fresh air and breathtaking Trevor ’s exuberance, energy and enthusiasm for life and painting are evident, as are his ongoing innovation and individuality. My brief words are a personal response to these recent works. I recently viewed his painting ‘Light Trap’, presently on view at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida in a gallery devoted to ‘Luminosity ’. In his exhibition literature, curator Matthew McLendon writes on “the color of light” and paintings that “explore the interactions of large planes of colour ”. He says “artists sought to exploit the tensions, the ebb and flow of sensations as washes of color that were juxtaposed with one another ”. The exhibition ‘Luminosity ’, works from the collection, and the recent installation of James Turrell’s skyspace ‘Joseph’s Coat’ celebrate light and color, as does ‘Light Trap’. The 1981 painting is a seminal Florida work, influenced and inspired by light and luminosity.
At the Millennium, the recent paintings are a visual orchestration of shape, surface, form, gesture, texture, colour and mood. From pearly white to bible black, with blues and oranges, colour is used in rich resonance a n d e v o c a t i v e e l e g a n c e . Pa i n t i n g s r a n g e from dark and sombre to light and joyous. B l a c k a n d m y s t e r i o u s , ‘ Ts u ’ c o m e s f r o m seeing Japanese pots in the Asia Society, New York. Yet the work is not illustrative o f, b u t i n s p i r e d b y t h a t e x p e r i e n c e a n d has a unique, ominous presence. Another painting ‘Night Voyage’ is rich and resonant with dark blue, black gesture and white form. The mystery of mood and purity of painting is evident in these works, each different and distinctive. ‘Blue Dancer ’, ‘Breaker ’, ‘Depths’, ‘Gust’, ‘Marine’ and ‘Squall’ may be t itles evocative of nature, yet the paintings are pure abstraction. For the past hundred years, painting no longer illustrates or copi es nature but is liberated to deal with visual choreography, evident throughout this work. Trevor has travelled extensively and writes of his experiences from journeys in the Himalayas to the Florida launching of an Apollo spacecraft. All have influenced him, most of all his living in Cornwall where sky, sea, surf, storms, rock, cliff and elements offer ever changing contrast, discord and harmony.
Bell is responsive to his surroundings yet his art remains universal and time less. What more canbe said about these works that celebrate painting and speak to us so eloquently.
My attitudes (over time) have placed specific emphasis on the ‘object on the wall’ versus the neutral area of the traditional canvas.
Much has been written on the painting of Trevor Bell with many catalogues and countless essays published over the years. Insights are gained through the writings of many distinguished critics and artists. ‘Trevor Bell: a British painter in America’ is a catalogue of the 2003 exhibition organised by Florida State University with many essays. My own writings conclude “ Trevor Bell has proved himself a significant and heroic painter who believes in the joy of painting. He has become a virtuoso of colour and an orchestrator of light. Thrust and gesture open up new and total realisations of space and sensation. His painting is to be enjoyed and acclaimed”. This 2012 exhibition is an opportunity to look anew with appreciation and awe at the work of this master painter at his zenith. Enjoy!
With regards to differences in approach to the external form (‘rounds’ and ‘rectilinears’), present throughout my career and together in this exhibition, I see them both being paintings but with either ‘pacific contours’ or ‘active contours’. In another sense you could say ‘with or without corners‘. The former being more open to implications of depth and implied external space which can freely develop an image, whereas the latter draws attention to it’s own fact and object nature and so is a holistic image in it’s own right. After so many periods of developing both types of work independently, I have found that recently working, once again on a pacific canvas to be a reclaimed freedom, but as a parallel to the slower more considered rounds, but either must generate a revealed presence and the feeling and realisation for that is the reason for working.
Roy Slade, Florida 2012 Director Emeritus of Cranbrook Art Museum & former Director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art
Trevor Bell, 2012
Storm Out There mixed media on canvas . 195 x 210 cm
Quiet Sand m i x e d m e d i a o n c a n v a s . 195 x 210 cm
Blue Dancer mixed media on canvas . 195 x 210 cm
Spring White m i x e d m e d i a on board . 117 x 120 cm 12
Tsu mixed media on board . 117 x 120 cm 13
Mooring m i x e d m e d i a on board . 90 x 90 cm 14
Wrengame mixed media on board . 55 x 55 cm 15
Pe a k
m i x e d m e d i a o n b o a r d . 55 x 55 cm
mixed media on board . 55 x 55 cm
m i x e d m e d i a o n b o a r d . 55 x 55 cm
mixed media on board . 55 x 55 cm
Iron mixed media on canvas . 160 x 175 cm
Sea m i x e d m e d i a o n c a n v a s . 140 x 230 cm
Squall mixed media on canvas . 140 x 230 cm
Breaker m i x e d m e d i a o n c a n v a s . 140 x 230 cm
Hammer mixed media on canvas . 140 x 230 cm
Le a d i n g L i g h t m i x e d m e d i a o n c a nvas . 152 x 152 cm 28
Marine mixed media on canvas . 152 x 152 cm 29
N i g h t Vo y a g e m i x e d m e d i a o n c a nvas . 152 x 152 cm 30
Gust mixed media on canvas . 152 x 152 cm 31
Depths mixed media on canvas . 228 x 184 cm
Dawn m i x e d m e d i a o n canvas . 228 x 184 cm
Bay mixed media on canvas . 140 x 233 cm
Tr i a s m i x e d m e d i a o n c a n v a s . 152 x 243 cm
Trevor Bell was born in Leeds in 1930. He was awarded a scholarship to attend The Leeds College of Art from 1947 to 1952 and, encouraged by Terry Frost, moved to Cornwall in 1955. St Ives was the epicentre for British abstract art being the home to artists such as Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth and Terry Frost, he made his reputation as a leading member who helped establish British Art on the international stage. From these artists, especially Nicholson, Bell received advice and support. Nicholson, alongside his then dealer Charles Gimpel, encouraged him to show in London and Waddington Galleries gave Bell his first solo exhibition in 1958. Patrick Heron wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, stating that Bell was ‘the best non-figurative painter under thirty’. In 1959 Bell was awarded the Paris Biennale International Painting Prize, and an Italian Government Scholarship and the following year was offered the Fellowship in Painting at the University of Leeds so moved back to his hometown, Bell went on to become a Gregory Fellow at Leeds University. It was during this period that Bell developed his shaped canvases, setting his work apart from other artists of his generation. Throughout the 1960’s Bell showed work in major exhibitions in the UK and USA and during this time his work was first purchased for the Tate collection. In 1973 he presented his new work at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, having just taken part in a major exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC. Over the course of the next thirty years Bell combined painting with teaching in various locations
eventually moving to Florida State University in 1976 to become the Professor for Master Painting. Here with the provision of a warehouse sized studio and time to really develop his painting he produced the large-scale, intensely coloured works for which he is known, reflecting the influence of the climate and landscape on him and his work. He went on to spend the next 20 years in America. Important exhibitions were held at the Corcoran Gallery and the Academy of Sciences in Washington, the Metropolitan Museum in Miami, The Cummer Gallery and the Museum of Art, Florida. In 1985 Bell was included in the London Tate Gallery’s St Ives 1939-64 exhibition and in 1993 he was part of the inaugural show of the Tate St Ives, where he was again re-established as part of the St Ives artists movement. He moved back to Cornwall in 1996 which began his long-term relationship with the Millennium. Bell had a major solo exhibition at the Tate St.Ives in 2004 and in 2011 a further 14 works were obtained by the Tate Gallery for their permanent collection. Bell has had works purchased and commissioned by numerous other international museums and public and private collections including (among others) The Arts Council of England, British Council, British Museum, Boca Raton, Laing Art Gallery, Ljubljana’s U.V.U Keleia Collection and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Bell is twice a recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Council of Florida, an Honorary RWA from the Royal Western England Academy, An Honoury Fellow of University College Falmouth and an Emeritus Professorship by Florida State University.
Published by Millennium to coincide with the exhibition â€˜Linkâ€™ by Trevor Bell All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers Publication produced by Impact Printing Services (www.impactprintingservices.co.uk) Interview Film by Alban Roinard and Joseph Clarke ISBN 978-1-905772-52-0
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