Gala Bell

 

Tell us about yourself and your work.

 

I am a painter, based in London, and currently I am making artwork in the incredible city that is Berlin. I am co-founder of Other, a grassroots, events-based platform for young artists, and I am also a curator in my own rights, as I frequently curate exhibitions with other artists and for shows with Other. Predominantly my work is concerned with the making of images, but it also greatly values materials and where they have come from, so there is an interplay between the material and the image.

 

Carbon Electric

 

Where does the inspiration come from?

 

Inspiration comes hard and fast and often changes, the work I make touches on a variety of ideas and moves between them. I admit that I am a young artist (b.1989) so I give myself the pleasure of time to explore different concepts and ways of making. I am fascinated by the relationship between analogue and digital. I prefer to make things by my own hand. I often take Polaroid photographs and am currently working on new video work that records analogue motion such as the movement in lenticular printing or in vintage toys. If I feel stuck I play with music, sometimes a piano or guitar, most often now using a Kaossilator and Traktor control. It is not good music, but it helps my mind enter some kind of ‘virtual’ aesthetic, either of classicism or fluro and disco lights and this gears me towards a certain era. Especially the electronic sounds, they help me root myself in what is going on now. Sometimes my paintings get confused because I love Monet so much, but it’s just not cool these days. Sometimes my work is figurative, I have made paintings and drawings concerned with the idea that desire is an ‘absurdity’, that desire is full of paradoxes, that attraction runs parallel to repulsion, the subject and object both want to possess and be possessed but they also want to be free.

 

Cat Blau detail

 

Some painting is purely abstract and process based, like extruding paint through fabric, I have done many works just pushing paint through silk with a palette knife in autonomous action. In my most recent work I am using money and exploring the iconoclastic act- destroying, defacing a ‘sacred’ object. Currency is very much a part of our visual culture- it asserts itself as a tool for the integration of the state, it embodies the identity of a nation, and is something we handle almost like a talisman. Oil paint replicates the colours on the notes to slowly remove symbols and by erasing these the vacancies created denote a free zone- an unclaimed, unattested space, unoccupied by any place or authority, free from the restraints of value and identity. It wishes to question how we can diminish the use of money and the act of buying/selling in exchange for trade and bartering. I do not sell these pieces but ask the public to trade something they love for it.

 

IMG_0907

 

Tell us about your experiences in art fairs, exhibitions and others.

 

From my experience the best exhibitions have been the ones that have been orgainzed by myself and with other artists. When a collective is involved in pulling something together there is a real genuine bond and that is what creates an infectious atmosphere. We know that the public can walk into a room and feel the ambiance instantly, so it is very difficult to curate a space sensitively enough for the viewer to just feel it straight away. When you exhibit with a gallery it can go either way, sometimes its too cold and restrained. I respect the gallery enormously because I know how much work they put into doing a show, but the people that run the space have to be cool, if they are snooty I won’t let them represent my work, otherwise people will have a different impression attached to it. I would ideally like to be outside of any institution and just act as a free radical, if I could. But I need to survive, and I am under no illusion that bohemian personalities thrive on being outsiders. I ideally want to leave my work somewhere where nothing can interfere with the viewer’s relationship with it, I want them to feel what I was feeling when I was making it. I haven’t done any art fairs yet, and I am quite sure that I won’t. I don’t want my pieces to be seen as ‘commodity objects’- yes they are paintings, but they are not wall decoration, they are my sweat and tenderness and frustration.

 

Preserving a Dance, in Weissensee

 

What does it means the art for you?

 

Art is a reflection of evolution. It is inbuilt, like an instinct, we are compelled to do it. The first ever piece considered an ‘artwork’ is the Oluvdai hand axe, a stone sharpened by cave men to be used as a hunting tool. The axe was carried around by the cave man and reused again and again. In its own way it has an element of design and was instilled with emotion. Historians have seen this as evidence for an inbuilt desire for design and an eye for all things beautiful. It is so difficult to define artwork, is it anything that is beautiful that simply exists, or does it have to be constructed by man? If you can react to it, be either astounded by beauty or revulsion or even just a slight feeling, I think it is art, whether it was made by a hand or not. I have seen elephants make paintings in Thailand, and this blew my mind. I also think that my dog May was a great, great artist.

 

The Ecstasy of St Teresa

 

What do you think about the art system in your country?

 

I think that the art system is a little archaic. But I’m glad because it means that new generations of artists are challenging how art should be seen, collected, bought or sold. More and more artists create work outside of the gallery, refuse to sell it or create artwork that only exists for a moment. Of course this raises the question, how does one survive as an artist if you don’t associate with money? It is a huge conflict I have within myself in fact. I deem art to be a gift to the world, something that is far beyond a price. Yet I have sold my work, and am happy when I see it belong to someone else, I know it will live with them and they do in fact have a part of me. If money is what makes this happen then it has to be done, but I am trying to find other ways, like I mentioned above, ways of trade and exchange of gifts. The organization that I run, Other, challenges this same question, which is why we sell artwork fro very low prices in order to encourage new young collectors that are supporting their own generation. We lift each other.

 

Leap Year

 

What is the future of art?

 

The future of art, I can’t wait to see it. I think that we will have some awe-some art that is made through digital software, such as projections and virtual realities, but that which is still made by hand will be very precious. As craftsmanship declines and skills diffuse, and the aesthetic taste of generations changes, the ones that still use their hands to make will be very special indeed.

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