Selected works by Dirk Bell

Dirk Bell
Abgrund (Abyss)


Mixed media on canvas, curtain, mirror pieces, bones, wood, paint, neon lamp, electric cable

204.7 x 174.5 x 14.4 cm
Dirk Bell’s intimate figurative drawings and paintings unveil a new way of depicting and perceiving sensuality, like an evanescent but still present memory. In works such as the delicate Rabbit’s Moon (2007), with its illusion of a watery craquelure all over its surface, and the darker, more violently rendered Wolf Hamlet Madonna Elmex (2006), the artist revisits traditional genres and compositions – the memento mori still life, the symbolic representation of the human figure – filtering and compressing art historical references with a contemporary sense of dismantlement and disintegration.
Dirk Bell
Rabbit's Moon


Mixed media on canvas

160 x 276 cm
Nowhere is Bell’s embracing call for a new kind of ungraspable but overpowering figurative sensuality proposed more clearly than in Abgrund (Abyss) (2008). A naked figure, painted in soft brushwork and installed under a neon light, is partly revealed by a half-drawn lace curtain. A ledge running along the bottom of the frame holds broken mirror shards and charred pieces of bone. A certain frustration hovers over the work. Abyss, Bell explains, ‘marks a point of no return… The mirror shards can be used to look into fragments of the future, whereas the past as well as memory are spread out before one’s eyes and can be looked at… The cindered bones are relics of a picnic at the roadside…The whole scenery can be veiled by the curtain.’
Dirk Bell
Wolf Hamlet Madonna Elmex


Mixed media on canvas

230 x 140 cm
The pictures within the frame of Rabbit’s Moon, depicting posing figures, illustrations in books, and other less easily identifiable shapes, are on the same illusory plane as the skull, glass of wine, bottle and ashtray next to which they stand, and contain the same visually hallucinogenic power.

In the limb-plagued Wolf Hamlet Madonna Elmex, two figures, one holding the other, are set against a background full of multiple marks suggesting motion. The exact meaning of the work is as impenetrable as similarly gestural prehistoric cave paintings.

Other Resources
Additional information and images – Dirk Bell
Various information and images – Dirk Bell
Intoxication can also be traced in the work of Berlin-based artist Dirk Bell. Bell renders his sepia-toned drawings and paintings at speed, as if to grasp a train of fleeting associations.
Selected images and biographical information
Dirk Bell made a series of drawings and watercolours in which ephemeral figures and imagery appear. They refer to his experience of the world and memories of other imagery, with subjects that are often extraneous within gothic and romantic landscapes or hidden within mirror images.
Dirk Bell’s drawings and photograms are strange, terrifying and mesmerising. Deeply romantic, and apparently without irony, his images are soporific and dreamlike, often reminiscent of Blake’s own following of Christian theology and Gothic art.