A Fine Art Portfolio

Tanya Bell
Artist’s Statement

Works on wood

The panels of wood with silver leaf deal with religious subject matter, drawing iconography by analogy from Early Christian and Byzantine texts. In these texts, gold and silver leaf is used to embellish the subject matter and glorify it by sheer beauty and value. The luminous quality of the material also flattens the surface, emphasizing its two-dimensional quality and at the same time reflects it, creating the illusion of depth or dimension. The effect is literally meant to represent the spiritual world. My panels deal with this idea, breaking away from depicting these subjects in a figurative form. The shimmering surface of the material creates an illusion, an ambiguity as to the exact position of tangible surface of the panel. It is conceptual in the way that it questions the meaning of space as a physical, tangible form, and challenges our experience of perception from the physical to the spiritual.

Against the silver leaf, which is cool and ethereal, I contrast the expressive mark, or another raw material. Scratching into the surface, slashing, gouging or applying dark smudged color to reassert the tactile quality of the surface applies these marks. Sometimes burning out holes in the wood with fire, or shooting through acrylic with a gun has made them. The cool unmarked quality of the surface lies in contrast to the raw physicality of the mark making. The marks express raw emotion, pain and also suffering. They remind us of our humanity and that we ourselves are often imperfect and broken. The tension lies in the struggle between materials, and the harmonizing of them to create a final form, a visual prayer of reconciliation and beauty.



Artist's Bio

South African born, Tanya Bell moved to New York City in 1988, where she has reside since. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, most notably was selected to represent South Africa in the Florence Biennale, in Florence, 2009. She studied Fine Art at Wits University in South Africa, and  received  BFA in painting from Hunter College, NYC and an MFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute. She chaired the Art and Architecture Review Committee at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in NYC for eight years, and coordinated exhibitions by notable artists such as Dale Chihuly, Robert Motherwell and oversaw permanent collections by Louise Nevelson, and Arnoldo Pomodoro.





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