The Ticket to Ride Painting Series by Michael Bell. Nine paintings to explain a story, nine paintings that certainly show us more than a story.
Years ago I was presenting an artist in Madrid. He was a photographer who shows a series of photographs in an art gallery. I asked him if he really wants to tell us a story and about the relationship between the narrative and the photographs. He answered that there was no relationship at all and he didn’t want to tell any story at all. I was, at least, surprised with his answer –maybe because I love baroque painting-.
And here I am watching Michael Bell’s works. Ticket to Ride are a series of paintings telling us a story and I am quite sure of it –please, Michael, if I am wrong I promise won’t write a line for the rest of my life-… but the story Michael Bell is telling us, it is more than a story of mobsters, solitudes and empty spaces to fill. It’s, in fact, a story about the relationship among colors, characters and the own narrative of the shapes. Yes, we are not watching a film but we can feel the telling story there, inside the underground and through the streets.
I am watching The N and the R. The woman is in the center of the painting looking through the window. We can feel her tears and we can imagine the story. All the elements in the painting point at the woman and at a story to reveal. We have the tickets to the right and the drops rushing to her, rushing to the narrative. We have a frame and we have some words too. What is your story, mysterious lady? We want to know more and we cannot wait for the next painting. The Ring, Room Service… There’s water again in the metro. The woman is not there but we can feel her presence. She is close, really close. Has she gone?
There’s a phone cab and a phone there. Someone has gone. Was she? We are in 40 Street waiting, still waiting for the man of the cigarettes. We don’t know his name but we know he is a tough guy: a gun, a field out of the city. We can see now another lady, black dressed. She has a mobile phone in her hand. And, finally, here he is: the bad guy in a dripping painting. The car and the meadow. The city is there, watching you, watching us. Tell me, Mr. Bell, what is the end of the story? We are watching now violence, the man, the woman. We don’t want to look but we cannot leave them. Was I expecting to watch a happy Christmas story? No, I was not. Finally, we have the end of the story, the woman who looks through the window. She is alone, she have told us her sad story.
Michael Bell has created a fabulous series plenty of narrative, shapes, colors and suggestions… Michael Bell creates modern situations and watching them, we can feel the ways the first Renaissance used, when Giotto began to tell us stories of Saints and Sins. This time, Mr. Bell brings a world of crimes, violence and deep silences, where voices shout from the colors and stories. These series shows us how to tell a story with all the elements: shapes, characters, colors, memories and, overall, imagination and talent.
Definitely, we are not seeing a movie but I am sure we will see a film soon.
Congratulations, Mr. Bell