Leland Bell: Morning into Motion

Leland Bell, Untitled (Morning Series VII), c. 1980s, acrylic and graphite on ca
Leland Bell, Untitled (Morning Series VII), c. 1980s, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 14 x 8 1/2 inches (courtesy of Lori Bookstein Fine Art)

Tim Keane reviews the recent exhibition Leland Bell: Morning Series at Lori Bookstein Gallery, New York.

Keane writes: "Bookstein showcases Bells’ late career Morning series so that the paintings, hung in very close proximity to one another, resemble reframed expositions, each with a luminosity and intimacy that resembles both early Renaissance Italian frescoes and the Degas’ sketchbooks filled with studies of dancers.

Each painting brings to the foreground the varied positions, tones and pathos in the depiction of this same couple as they “move,” suspended in time and space. Most of them are masterful studies executed on paper. The paintings are, like the figures they represent, involved in a gradual, surreptitious process that requires a complicated positioning and repositioning of mass and energy, all of which Bell captures strikingly. He slows down time and foregrounds the embodied nature of that precipitous period — morning –a transitional stage which we tend to attribute to the mind’s willpower over the body rather than to instinctual, muscular responses and physiological kinesis."