Deborah Bell is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. She works in a range of media on canvas and paper and is renowned for her bronze sculptures, from the delicate to the monumental. Her earlier, more political work - which included collaborations with her peers, William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins - has given way to a broader, deeper investigation into the border between mortality and immortality, matter and spirit, presence and absence, the grounded and the transcendent.
In her iconography Bell draws from a range of cultures (African, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, early Christian and European) and a range of philosophies (particularly the Buddhist preoccupation with stillness). All her art works towards the Zen mark: the single gesture of absolute presence. Her quest is ongoing and has left in its wake a series of powerful, totemic images that seem part of what W.B. Yeats described as the collective soul of the universe containing the memories of all time – Spiritus Mundi.