The title of our exhibition, Thrust, is taken from a large shaped painting featured in the show. The word 'thrust' seems to perfectly describe Bell's practice. It implies progression and a barely contained drive towards a goal. The word also conveys a sense of power, scale and virility. All these attributes are evident, in one way or another, in the paintings Bell has produced throughout his long career.
We are not presenting a retrospective of Bell's oeuvre. Instead we are trying to shed light on the key themes that have always informed his work and in doing so it is necessary to exhibit key paintings from many different periods, almost all of which are sourced directly from the artist’s studio. We hope to show how different environments, from the wilds of Yorkshire and Cornwall to the heat and light of Florida, have impacted on Bell. We also wish shed light on key events which shaped Bell's vision of the world, such as the treks the artist undertook in the Himalayas and the NASA launches at Cape Canaveral.
Like many artists of his generation, too much emphasis is placed on early experimentation and not enough consideration is given to the later periods that are no less vital. This is something we hope to address in our exhibition.
Although many of the selected paintings have been exhibited at major museum surveys (Thrust itself was a central exhibit at the solo show 'Beyond Materiality', Tate St Ives, 2004), we are also pleased to present a large number of recent works that have never been seen before. These later works demonstrate that the artist's vigour and power as a painter remain undiminished after over 60 years as a practising artist.