In the front gallery, are paintings by the British art historian and painter Julian Bell (grandson of the Bloomsbury group painter Vanessa Bell.) Well known in England for his art criticism, Bell is also a painter of considerable gifts. This is the first time his paintings have been shown in New York in over 30 years.
Based in East Sussex, England, Bell is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, and author of the critically acclaimed What is Painting? and Mirror of the World: A New History of Art. He has shown extensively with Francis Kyle Gallery in London and has work in the collections of the Brighton Museum and the Museum of London. This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to consider the relationship between Bell’s critical writing and his art. Bell will be giving a concurrent talk After the End of Art (and Q & A led by writer David Carrier) at the New York Studio School on February 19th.
Bell paints both scenes form daily life- shoppers caught amongst glossy magazine racks or the base of a modern building and perplexing fictional scenarios such as a poet’s theatre troupe outside Skotoprigonyevsk, Dostoyevsky’s fictional home of the Karamazov clan, or a man climbing a scaffold on the edge of a town in Uzbekistan. The experience of looking at his painting is akin to stepping inside a fiction that has already begun. Bell’s work unfolds in strange details like a short story whose narrative is never quite grasped. As Bell puts it, “I embrace the currents of narrative and invite them to course through my canvases. Why turn your back on storytelling when it's the mainstream of human self-understanding?” The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with a text by art historian David Carrier.