press release

Trevor Bell (b1930) is a painter whose work celebrates the act of painting. In the 1950s Bell was an important contributor to the second generation of the St Ives School of Modernism alongside his peers Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Bryan Wynter. This exhibition will present his new installation of major paintings, Passage - Quiet Five, alongside his large-scale, dramatically shaped canvases of the 1960s and a large, intense colourfield work from the 1970s, Tall Seven, painted after his departure to Florida in 1973.

The display that focuses on his work of the 1960s, reveal strong, spare works, revealing his consistent concern with shape and colour, space and environment, both in and on the edge of the canvas. Bell made his first shaped canvas in 1962, and subsequent works such as Wight 1968, and the disparate silhouettes of Split Jet, 1970, challenged established notions of what constituted 'a painting', and led to a major exhibition in the Whitechapel in 1973.

Bell's dynamic paintings gather the architectural space around them as an active element of the work, creating a sense of tension between the canvas, the floor and wall. The canvas's rounded and painted edges cast shadows onto walls, a halo of reflected coloured light. The viewer's eye, with no fixed point of focus, shifts endlessly over the surface travelling visually and spatially, encouraging a relationship that is physical as well as aesthetic.

Although his work does not contain obvious landscape references, the drama of the Cornish landscape is expressed through his control of colour and scale, evoking a strong sense of speed, energy, space and atmosphere. The distilled form, essence and spirit of place.

Trevor Bell was born in Leeds in 1930 and studied at the College of Art there. In his twenties, working in West Cornwall, he made his reputation as a leading member of the younger generation of St Ives artists. In the early 1970s he became Professor for Master (Graduate) Painting at the Florida State University, staying there for over 20 years. Bell returned to Cornwall in the 1990s from the United States.


Trevor Bell: Beyond Materiality
Paintings and Drawings 1967- 2004