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Creatively presented in two distinct halves that reflect his dual interest in two and three-dimensional forms – the first collecting his works on paper, printed on a heavily textured uncoated stock, and the second collecting his glass and metal sculptures, printed in a high-gloss finish – the book itself aims to reflect Bell’s close attention to materials. In each medium, Bell’s work reflects a lifelong enthusiasm for the physical properties of light and the materials it hits, and an equally tangible passion for playing with those properties with an almost childlike reverence and a spontaneity that belies or even defies his understanding of every process. From his earliest monochrome paintings in the 1950s to the glass cubes and standing glass-panel sculptures of the 1960s and 1970s, to his experimentation with vapour drawings in the 1980s and his most recent ‘mirage works’ and ‘light knot’ sculptures, Bell’s career reads as one long and beautiful experiment in the properties of light on surface, and the relationship of surface to space.
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