There's a quote from author John Berger in the book Ways of Seeing that has always fascinated me: "Seeing comes before words, it is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."
In a new series I'm creating for an upcoming exhibition, I've decided to take Berger's words a step further, this idea of seeing the unseen.
My work has always been about the human essence. As a young artist, I would often include literal images of people in my paintings. As my work evolved, I found it more interesting to suggest the presence of the human being without showing one. In the those series, I would create worlds with no people but with highly populated busy and kinetic cityscapes. They suggested that there is traffic on the ground, people walking around and the people working in offices through the windows of the buildings.
As things progressed, I had to create a visual vocabulary and a color palette. This resulted in the creation of loud, bright and colorful abstract bulbous and biological forms, individual cells that symbolize people and human energy to me. These individual energy cells are called "organelles." Through this more abstract approach, I became more interested in the spirit of the soul.
The natural next step for me was to be reflective. To turn my focus on my own energy. In order to achieve this I've decided to focus specifically on my brain, which in my opinion is where most human energy is generated.
It has been very exciting to look back at specific memories and stories from my history. For example, when I was four years old I fell into a koi pond at the botanical gardens in Ft. Worth, Texas. It was terrifying as all the fish swarmed around me. What would my 4-year-old fight or flight brain have looked like as I experienced this traumatic moment? Many of the stories will be humorous, many will be about darker times. There is so much to explore, so much to discover here.
Over the years, my work has matured conceptually and physically yet, underneath it all, it has always been about the human spirit. We all see ourselves in the visible world, and I hope through this new work the viewer will understand that we can also see ourselves in the invisible world.
Stanley Bell is a visual artist who lives and works out of his studio in Carbondale, Colorado.