Deborah Bell is one of South Africa´s most acclaimed artists, a transcendent sculptor, painter and printmaker. She has worked with a great variety of media during her career and has collaborated on various historically important projects with her contemporaries and co-forerunners of the resistance art movement such as William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins.
Deborah Bell’s work is a highly spiritual and personal experience of mark making. Memory and the role it plays personally, and in society, thematically prevails throughout her body of work from the 1980s to present.
Bell’s work explores notions of Africanness and what it means to her as a South African artist. There are general trends of mythology and multicultural references throughout her art. Bell works primarily in bronze and on paper, ranging from small intimate works to magnificent, towering pieces.
Of Bell’s latest work, the artist has stated that she had not intended to create pieces at their current scale, but that her work has taken on a life of its own. Bell’s creation of her spiritual and transcendental works take on a shamanistic process in which the beings emerge from her chosen medium, as if ritualistically summoned.
Of this process, Bell states, “I didn’t set out to make what these sculptures became. Their scale and presence surprised me.” She speaks of feeling the presence of the gods of antiquity, a powerful force driving her creative method. Each of the five figures in her latest body of work is “emerged from the seventh seal, with a fully realised counterpart”. Both the masculine and the feminine are represented in these five figures.
Bell received her B.A.F.A. (Hons) and M.F.A. degrees at the University of Witwatersrand, and has been an artist working abroad and a lecturer at various South African tertiary institutions including the University of the Witwatersrand. Bell lives and works between her studios in Magaliesburg and Rosebank, as well as being a collaborator at the David Krut studios on several projects.