Mark Crofton Bell

Shot of Art: Where pretty and ominous meet in paint

A predilection for photography tends to shine through when it comes to the art shows we highlight, so getting out to see accomplished painterly works is a nice way to hit the reset button when it comes to the appreciation of the work on display at local galleries. A perfect example of this is Mark Crofton Bell's Double Phenomenon currently showing at General Hardware Contemporary.

As suggested by the title of the exhibit, viewers are likely to do something of a double take when viewing Bell's paintings. Undeniably pretty, the calming impression they tend to foster at first look is bound to be replaced by a more complex reaction when you dwell on them for a while or read the critical materials at the gallery. Harmless looking scenes, one soon realizes, are actually no such thing. Lurking somewhere in the frame is always an element that suggests that there's more going on, though it's often difficult to piece together just what it is.

Thankfully we have Shannon Anderson's exhibition essay to help us out. In it, she explains the technique Bell uses in creating his works: "These seem to be the common threads that link Bell's choice of images: moments documented when an incident is still in a state of unexplained discovery, and quite often, stories caught up in themes of death or survival. In viewing these paintings, whose imagery is now divorced from their original journalistic function, the viewer must largely speculate about the circumstances that have led to these disrupted scenes."

Double Phenomenon runs until October 8th.

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Photos by Jesse Milns


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