Gallery Archive - HARRY BELL, ANGELA HUGHES, CARL LAZZARI and DALE ATKINSON Paintings 02 December 1995 - 22 December 1995
Harry Bell, a native of Tyneside, loves the Quayside area and he paints it with a matching passion.
It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that his motive is merely to record the picturesque. As well as the drama of space he also captures the poignant drama of time. It is there in the sombre blackness of the buildings, the rusticated late Victorian office blocks with their redundant notice boards advertising long gone sailings to Bremerhaven or the faded lettering on the empty Western Union office. It is there in the grimy windows and the grubby brickwork, a history which recent attempts at trendification fail to obliterate.
Harry Bell tells us all this in paintings which nearly always start from radical, aerial viewpoints or suddenly cut-off compositions. He favours subdued tonalities, dark oppositions of warm and cold colours which somehow seem to personify that permanently shadowed area. His registration of this unmistakably urban light has echoes of both Sickert and Edward Hopper but Bell is, of course, his own man. Neither of his forbears were so obviously driven by a sense of 'genius loci' as he so patently, and passionately, is.