Julian Bell was born in 1952. He has been self-employed as a painter and writer about art over most of the past thirty years. He is represented by the Francis Kyle Gallery, London W1, and the HQ Gallery, Lewes.
Bell has lived in the Lewes area since 1981. The selection of canvases exhibited here show his enduring interest, over that period, in faithfully describing the people and the buildings that make up his home town. Some were commissions from local individuals and organizations. The earliest is a minutely observed view from the cliffs overlooking the town to the east, started in autumn 1982. A 1998 canvas for the Lewes Victoria Hospital imagines a bird's eye panorama, looking southwards from above the Paddock. Whereas a painting for Alan Shelley, owner of the Bow Windows Bookshop on the High Street, compresses the patron's daily walk to work into the form of a book.
The same interest in devising panoramic perspectives appears in a photo-based memento of the 1987 constituency election results being read from the steps of the County Courts on a Friday morning. (The candidates expand or shrink in proportion to their share of the votes.) Here and elsewhere Bell uses the town, as a subject he knows well, to experiment with representational techniques. Sublunar is a dream-recollection of fragments of daily life in and around the painter's house on the High Street, as he seeks for cohesive vision. Holy Week likewise takes liberties with Lewes subject-matter, to morph the street crowds of Bonfire Night and of a May procession into those of Palm Sunday and of Good Friday in the Jerusalem of the Gospels. In further, more straightforwardly descriptive canvases, Lewes citizens patiently await the arrival of cash, God's grace and the local bus services. (Among those standing in the cashpoint queue is the Lewes-based rock star Arthur Brown.) The most recent canvas here, still in progress, depicts an imaginary town meeting, of public-spirited citizens gathered to discuss and argue over proposals for Lewes's future. Bell invited various friends and acquaintances to sit and be sketched in his studio, and when completed the work will present a composite portrait of them, in an imaginary room that loosely echoes the Town Hall's council chamber.
For more information please visit his website