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Important work by Deborah Bell on auction at Strauss & Co, Johannesburg, 24 May 2010

  3 May 2010     Archived

Long-time friend and artistic collaborator with Robert Hodgins and William Kentridge on a number of print and film projects, Deborah Bell has developed her own distinctive style that explores the entanglements of histories and cultures by drawing on a diversity of imagery that includes African, Asian, Middle Eastern and European sources. Her approach is less academic than intuitive and imaginative

Journey of the Magus III forms part of a series of works entitled The Journey Home, which was exhibited at Bell’s first solo show at Art First, London in 2000. The fact that this work was selected for the cover of Bell’s monograph is an indication of its importance within the artist’s oeuvre. As editor and primary contributor to the book, Pippa Stein pointed out, “making art is her way of penetrating the material world as deeply as she can, in order to grasp the invisible path which is taking her on what she calls ‘the journey home’”.

Describing how the artist shifted in the 1990s from oil painting to mixed media with watercolour washes in order to find a new form through which to explore the relationship between the spiritual and the material, Stein explains that these works “show each horse and rider firmly on the path to spiritual enlightenment and renewal, accompanied by the ever-present shadows of history”.

Drawing on staffs and veranda posts, Bell adheres to the proportions of West African sculpture, where the head, associated with destiny and the locus of the spirit, measures one third of the body. Carried on the head is a ceramic vessel, which though a symbol of completeness, bears the marks of cracking, suggesting the weathering of time and conflict.



Deborah Margaret Bell (South African 1957-)
signed and dated 1999/2000
charcoal, gouache, watercolour, pastel and collage
160 by 120cm

R 70,000 - 100,000

The Journey Home: New Work, Art First, London, 2000
Unearthed, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, 2001

Pippa Stein, Deborah Bell, TAXI-010, David Krut Publishing, 2004.

Art First, London
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg


Stephan Welz
Mary-Jane Darroll
011 728 8246