This Wednesday, an exciting subject in Michael Bell’s weekly section on Yareah: Movies and art. Visit MBELLART, everything about art, artists… and dreams.
I.R.- Hi Michael. I know you love movies. You have played in some films and now, you are involved in a TV series. Tell us about your experience? Is the film world very different from painting?
M.B.- Hi Isabel. I am a huge fan of films and have been fortunate to have been on both sides of the camera – as a movie-goer, as a director of my own art, and as an actor who’s had a few bit parts and cameo appearances on some hit shows.
My most recent experience is a re-occurring cameo role I have on my longtime pal Dominic Capone’s upcoming TV series (The Capones), which airs November 9th. Domo and I go way back. We’ve been best of friends since hitting it off at a “Gangsters Convention” in Chicago (of all things) over 10 years ago. Dominic is Al Capone’s great nephew and – believe me – he owns the role as “Boss” just like his great Uncle would, with his larger-than-life personality that translates just as well on film as it does in real life. He looks just like him too which always struck me from the day we first met. In the show I play me, so there’s not a lot of “acting” going on, but I’m grateful to be a part of this great project and know it’s gonna be a huge hit – no pun intended.
Filming on location, for anyone out there who’s never been on a movie set before, is simply a magical experience (depending on how you look at it). For me it’s like being inside one of your own paintings, each moment having a ripple effect that impacts what potentially comes next for the director, just like making brushstrokes in a painting. It is a lot of “hurry up and wait” when you’re on location but that gives you time to spend with some of the other cast and crew while you’re waiting to film your scenes, which also can affect and enhance things, like your relationship with those cast members, on and off screen.
The film world is very different from painting in terms of the production (the output), since there’s often numerous voices feeding the overall fire but the actual artistic process is very similar. Like any strong painting, if it’s coming from a place of authenticity it will come off very real.
Actors and artists are a lot alike.
I.R.- Since you have already portrayed several important stars in paintings, I think you know a little about their personalities. Do you identify with them? I mean, maybe a painter is more individualistic because the painter works alone.
M.B.- Me? I’m a consummate collaborator Isabel, so, while I’m left all alone in the studio with my canvases, I’m very much interested in working with my subjects as I immortalize them forever in paint. I do this by getting to know my clientele on a very personal level in order to accurately paint a picture that encapsulates as much of who they really are “on the inside” as well as outwardly. Do I “identify with them?” – Sometimes. Sometimes not. Not everybody’s for me, like anything else. But there’s no way I can paint them any other way than exactly who they are, regardless. My artist friend Eric Fischl put it really succinctly at one of his recent portrait shows. Something to the effect of: “Here’s you seeing me seeing you.” That, in essence, is what it is – the portrait. My goal is always for the audience to experience what you would feel if you were to actually know the person I’m portraying when they’re looking at my paintings, as a window into their soul. It’s my way of communicating who they are with the world visually. So, if I don’t get to know my clientele on a personal level, there’s no way I can’t paint them as they really are. I guess you could say, as an artist, I employ a “method acting” way of working. I dive into their psyche, explore who they are, become them for a while and then pour it all back out onto my canvases.
Georgia Durante, Aida Bogosian and myself celebrating Aida’s portrait unveiling at her Hollywood home for her birthday
I.R.- In your opinion and since you know both worlds: are they parallel or they influence each other?
M.B.- I’d say they influence each other. Since art precedes language as a form of communication I’d say art is the ultimate universal communicator, but the two worlds definitely influence one another. The conversation on “Life imitating Art” is definitely one for the ages, Isabel. Its most notable proponent being Oscar Wilde, who in his 1889 essay “The Decay of Lying” stated: “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” This statement is founded in his belief that the goal of life is to find expression, and that what is found in life and nature is not what is really there, but is that which artists have taught people to find there, through art. It’s like saying the London Fog didn’t exist until poets and painters invented it by expressing its haunting beauty with the world through poems and paintings.
This becomes a debate between Romanticism and Realism.
I’ll leave this up to your readers to debate…
Enjoy your week, Michael.