Trevor Bell (b 1930) is best known for his large-scale, intensely coloured paintings, and for developing shaped canvases, setting his work apart from other artists of his generation.
In 1955, on the advice of Terry Frost, Trevor Bell moved to Cornwall. Shortly afterwards he rented a studio with Brian Wall at Porthmeor. Cornwall opened up his mind to the possibilities of an abstraction based on the inspiring landscape in his new environment. Contemporaneous movements in art in the United States were also clearly of interest to Bell.
Trevor Bell was soon mixing with the St Ives Modernists, and painting within Porthmeor studios gave Bell a chance to seek advice from others. Artists, especially Ben Nicholson and his then dealer Charles Gimpel, encouraged him to show in London, and Waddington Galleries gave Bell his first solo exhibition in 1958. Patrick Heron wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, stating that Bell was ‘the best non-figurative painter under thirty’.
In 1959 Bell was awarded the Paris Biennale International Painting Prize, and an Italian Government Scholarship and the following year was offered the Gregory Fellowship in Painting at the University of Leeds whose advisors at the time were Sir Herbert Read and Henry Moore. It was during this period that Bell developed his shaped canvases, setting his work apart from other artists of his generation.
In 1976 Bell moved from St Ives to become the Professor for Master Painting at Florida State University. From his warehouse studio he produce large-scale, intensely coloured works for which he is known, reflecting the influence of the climate and landscape on him and his work. He went on to spend the next 20 years in America before returning to west Cornwall, whose dramatic coastlines were a permanent influence on his work.
Text: Ben Crack