Dirk Bell

Untitled door (DB - 642) 2005
Mixed media on wood
198cm x 74.8cm x 16cm (Without doorframe)

Dirk Bell

Born 1969 Munich.
Lives and works in Berlin

Dirk Bell’s works are mesmerising. romantic, and apparently without irony, his images are soporific and dreamlike, often reminiscent of Wiliam Blake’s interest in Christian theology and Gothic art, suggesting the mystery and trepidation of fairy tales and legends. His photographic works, pinned straight to the wall, explore the differing expressive connotations of black and white, His painting, using a slightly wider palette, employs figurative imagery familiar from classical art and surrealism: the conch shell, vaginal and alluring; a vase of flowers seemingly in-between decay and vitality, all framed by a shape, rendered in glittering powder, implying the womb. Yet his works that are most startling resemble a surrealist take on the Gothic, with effaced figures, nightmarish motifs and strange symbols peppered ominously throughout. They contain echoes of armless statues found in museum collections, the shape of a phoenix or an odd figure on horseback surface from the miasma, a dreamlike state unsettlingly synthesised. Particularly when rendered in black and white, Bell’s work is evocative of the Turin Shroud, (apparently the first example of photographic development attained by soaking a sheet in lemon juice and urine then placed over a subject sitting in the sun). But the work only hints at figurative elements, instead Bell’s images, symbols and words are scattered throughout the work in a manner similar in intent, although radically different in technique, to the free association of subconscious thoughts found in Freud and the Surrealists. In Unholy Truths two doors hang open, on one a faint visage emerges from the gloom accompanied by a warning message not to pass through the door into the oblivion beyond, the other conceals a discoloured, androgynous nude hidden behind the gaze of a feminine countenance. There is an immediacy about the execution of Dirk Bell’s work that accentuates the ephemeral nature of his subject matter as if his images themselves are in danger of disappearing before they can be entirely understood.