I met John Bell a few months back and was pleased to know that he was the artist behind a favorite piece of mine hanging on a best friend’s wall. Bell is what I’d call an art satoralist. His style is contemporary and mixed but never straying from poking at and exploring the values of the modern culture and society in which we all call home. How excuses for actions not only at the personal level but also at the cultural and government level are in abundant yet, accountability is low. He tackles modern cultural memes and surprisingly his work, though brash, has a softness about it captured in the truth it depicts on canvas, whatever that canvas might be.
Bell has worked in all kinds of mediums and has explored all kinds of cultural happenings from environmentalism to celebrity culture. Like it or not his work is bright, bold and his headlines can’t help but make you smile. Personally, I’m a lover of mixed media pieces, where layers and layers come together to form something special, yet unique from all the individual pieces brought together to make it whole. John is a master of the mixed media piece, personally describing his style as a, postmodern mashup, which I think hits the nail right on the head.
One of Bell’s explorations that I find incredibly interesting is his dinner series, the third of which was aptly called , “The Next Supper”. Held at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Bell explored the connection between viewer, art and expression blurring all the traditional line and rules by asking his guests to join in, which in turn became the subjects as museum goers could watch the entire dinner unfold in the main gallery. As dinner was being served the guest could add to the canvas, the tablecloth, which was already started by Bell with provoking imagery and words. They were encouraged to use anything they had access to on the table. The result was an inspiring and surprising mix as civilized adults turned primal using food, candles, burnt corkscrews and wine to create. This is just one example of how Bell really pushes the envelope using culturally hot movements, this time the family style dinner, to explore something new. Take a peak below at some shots from that night as well as a few favorite pieces of mine.
To check out the rest of John Bell’s work jump over to his site.