Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Life’s Simple Pleasures celebrates Portland artist Mark Bell

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
Artist Mark Bell addressing the gathering at his solo exhibition on Sunday, May 27 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
Master drummer Maroghini, his son Amri Hanson, and Verman Thomas entertaining the gathering at Artist Mark Bell’s solo exhibition at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday, May 27.
They claim it was not planned, but Casey Campbell and Christoff Hamilton turned up in similar attires. Here, they frame one of artist Mark Bell’s pieces at Bell’s solo exhibition at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday, May 27.
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Portland-based artist Mark Bell has been painting for over 14 years now. Over the almost one and half decade, his pieces have been showcased in various exhibitions, but, he said, he always dreamt of doing a solo exhibition.

When Arts and Education spoke with him in 2014, he expressed this desire.

That dream has come true, and all the spotlights were on him, on Sunday, May 27, when Osmosis Artbeat of the Caribbean showcased specially selected works by Mark Bell at his solo show Life's Simple Pleasures at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

It has been a long time in the making and a lot of work was put into it, and now that his solo debut is history, Bell told Arts and Education, "I feel like I am achieving."

For over three hours, relatives, friends, associates, and patrons milled around The Legacy Suite, viewing, gawking at and discussing the prolific artist's enchanting pieces.

The show carried pieces from which the simple ways and essences of Jamaican rural life and lifestyle stared back at patrons.

There is no depiction of pretentiousness, sugar-coating, and pseudo-sophistication.

"I like the country lifestyle. Nothing sweets me like the country lifestyle," Bell said.

Daily, in the Portland Art Gallery and studio, located in Port Antonio, he paints the images that he sees in his rural spaces, images, that depict country life as he knows it. And from those images you get the feeling that he loves roasted breadfruit.

The images he paints make him reflect on the days when our parents and grandparents were young. Evoking nostalgia, the images pull you to them, and you smile and then reflect on yesteryear when life was simple, especially if you are not from the millennial generation.

Reading by candlelight or lantern light or lamplight, washing clothes in the river, roasting breadfruit over a wood fire, sitting on a wall with plastic bottles doing absolutely nothing, sharing a big bunch of guineps are some of the images that have certainly got the attention of Osmosis Caribbean for it to host Bell's first solo show.

 

SOPHISTICATED SIMPLICITY

 

"One of the things that is striking about Mark is that he's self-taught, and the sophistication of his work brings out the simplicity which we seem to have forgotten, because we are more glued to the technological and digital life. That is why the show is Life's Simple Pleasures ... which encapsulates Mark's overall inspiration and essence of life and simplicity," Karen Carter, curator at Osmosis Caribbean, told Arts and Education.

Osmosis - Artbeat of the Caribbean is an online gallery that exposes and helps to market the work of young, promising Jamaican and Caribbean artists.

"But besides being an online gallery, it is our vision to popularise Jamaica and Caribbean art," Carter said. "The overall concept is to bring business acumen into the arts and to bring art to the people so they know what is happening in the art world."

As the h'ordeuvres were passed around, the evening went on a crescendo with master drummer Maroghini and associates, while there were impromptu readings of poems by some patrons.

"We are very, very happy with the turnout. The people are very appreciative. It is not just a mere exhibition. It is in essence bringing out what Jamaica is," Carter said.

Though Bell paints the simple pleasures of life, he is not a simple man himself. The depth of his art speaks for itself. He is a prolific artist, actually, proficient in sign art, portraits, semi-abstract, abstract, still life, realism, and other styles.