Sill Life. Interview with the American artist Michael Bell in his weekly section MBELLART on Yareah http://www.yareah.com/arts/mbellart-weekly/
I.R.- Hi Michael. How is life? I suppose that really well since I’ve seen you on Facebook with Rachael Powers exhibiting your Cioccolato paintings at the Grand Opening of her new Honey Hive. Then, I must ask you why chocolate? Why have you painted a series dedicated to chocolate?
M.B.- Hi Isabel, yes, I’ve been on a busy exhibitions roll as of late, with painting unveilings and a solo exhibition in Chicago for “The Capones” this summer, which will begin airing on television January 28th, 2014 on the REELZ Network; my “Cioccolato” paintings solo exhibition at Rachael Powers new artisan bakery in Maryland this past September – October; my “Ticket to Ride” paintings solo exhibition at the President of Lycoming College’s mansion October 25th and a group show coming up on the most special of all days, January 4th, my late Grandmother Violet’s birthday. Here’s a quick sneak peak at the Cioccolato promo you were speaking of:
M.B.- As for why chocolate? What could be more sumptuous…
The idea for the paintings began as a spinoff of my sensual “Cinema of Truth” paintings, which were, at the time, really just done as a personal test of my realism skills. I chose a Brooklyn photography friend of mine who photographs very well, came up with an idea for a visual narrative…to create a conversation with her visually by choosing random photos from her collection that I thought went well together to create an obscure narrative (with her permission, of course) and then I painted them. I was satisfied enough with those works that I asked her to model for me again for my Cioccolato series, which was a series born from being asked to participate in the world’s second annual “For the Love of Chocolate” charity benefit. I created a painting entitled “Superbia” and donated it for auction ($12,000 U.S.) to benefit the French Pastry School of Chicago. Here’s a couple pics from my Solo Show at “The Honey Hive” with art collectors of my prints.
The Chicago painting auction was such a success I decided to create a seven painting series around the theme of “The Seven Deadly Sins in Chocolate”. At some point, if there’s enough interest from collectors I may pursue a “Seven Heavenly Virtues in White Chocolate” series and incorporate an African American model.
I.R. Still Life has been a great topic for artists of all time. They have painted different fruits, meats, fishes… for different reasons. Sometimes, as a pretext to improve their technique but some others, they have other deep intentions. For example, to express the brevity of life. Are you going to paint more topics related to food? Why?
M.B.- I may explore food again Isabel. It is an expression of so much more than what it is, from religious implications, to family ones. It’s fitting you talk about food on the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. While it’s a time for many of us to give thanks, for the rest of us it’s a momentary break in the action before the Christmas holiday rush. My favorite still-life I’ve ever painted thus far is “Room Service” from my Ticket to Ride series. This work was purposefully intended to re-define the traditional still-life, and the food (half-eaten) at this larger-than-life-sized dark hotel room table is a formidable foreshadowing of things to come. I leave the rest up to you, the viewer…
I.R.- Since you have titled the series Cioccolato, in Italian language, I assume you like Italian food (me too). Also, I know you have friends with an Italian background and you love some Old Italian Masters as Caravaggio. How has Italian culture influenced your work and life?
M.B.- Italian culture has had a huge influence on my life and work. It’s in my blood with roots that trace back to Roncà, in the Province of Verona, where Romeo and Juliet met their tragic end. And my wife’s family, the Molinaro’s, own a 250 acre farm near Benevento that has been in their family for over a hundred years. Her roots are in both Naples and Sicily. Now, many have labeled me the “Mob Artist”, which I’m fine with as a moniker, but it really speaks more to the infamous clientele that have collected my work over my career. It doesn’t really speak to the personal tragedies I’ve had to overcome in life, the dedication and hard work I’ve poured into the craft as an artist, or the intelligence behind my process of painting.
All I am is what I create, Isabel. It’s my blessing to share with the world. It’s my legacy. Some run from the pain. I allow it to burn into my heart and leave its mark as a constant reminder of what brings me up to the easel again and again every time I embark on a new piece, a new conversation, a new beginning. Nice week, Isabel…
I.R.- Nice week, Michael.