Alan Ibell is a contemporary New Zealand painter whose pastel-hued paintings explore themes of memory, dreams, personal anxieties, and spirituality, as well as Greek and Roman mythology. By employing non-linear perspective and abstracted elements, Ibell uses figuration lightly in the exploration of broader metaphysical ideas.Read More
Born in Ōtautahi Christchurch, Alan Ibell holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Otago Polytechnic, Ōtepoti Dunedin. He lived in Melbourne for several years before returning to New Zealand in 2016.
In 2015, Ibell was granted an artist's residency in Assisi, Italy, where he was exposed to the work of Italian Renaissance Masters, who were influential in the development of his practice. By using religious and mythological tropes in his work, Ibell explores how the tradition of narrative painting can operate within a contemporary secular context.
Ibell's work is also evocative of the work of Surrealists René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico in its concern with psychological environments. His works are preoccupied with the interplay between the mundane and the strange, and are filled with double meanings, shifting between reality and illusion, dark and light, past and present.
Landscapes like Final Reflection (2021) contain panels of colour that break up the sparse and imposing environment to create a dream-like scene. The desolate space inhabited by a long-shadowed figure probes the relationship between the physical and subconscious self.
Similarly, the idea of containment is a recurring theme in Ibell's work, particularly as expressed by motifs of caged birds, bound books, and brick enclosures. The works House at Night and House at Dawn (both 2021) at first resemble innocuous domestic scenes but there is a disquieting effect in the illusionary perspective and the oppressively large walls, allowing no obvious entry or exit.
Alan Ibell's early works were monochromatic, illustrative paintings. Over time, this style has gradually developed to become more abstracted with fewer elements. The effect is a more subtle narrative where patches of tone, panels of colour, bricks, jugs, and figures are reduced to simplified components, all adding to the otherworldly quality of his paintings.
Alan Ibell has won a number of awards, including the City of Dunedin Art Award (2010) and the Edinburgh Realty Premier Art Award (2009). Ibell was a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards 2018, 2016, and 2009, and the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award 2020 and 2019.
Ibell received the Karekare House Residency, Auckland in 2019 and the Arte Studio Ginestrelle International Artist and Writers Residency, Mount Subasio, Italy in 2015.
In addition to this exhibition, the artist has participated in the following select solo exhibitions, including Ascendants, Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland (2020); A Place to Put the Ghosts, Jhana Millers Gallery, Wellington (2020); Old Energies, TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Pah Homestead, Auckland (2019); He Thinks This House is A Tomb, c3 Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne (2015); Rubicon ARI Launch, Rubicon ARI, Melbourne (2012); Isn't It Good To Be Lost In The Wood, c3 Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne (2012); and Tales from the Interior, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin (2009).
The artist has also participated in the following group exhibitions, including Sydney Contemporary Presents 2020 (online) (2020); The Karekare House Residency 2019 Exhibition, TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Pah Homestead, Auckland (2019); The 27th Annual Wallace Art Awards - Salon des Refusés, TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Pah Homestead, Auckland (2018); Auckland Art Fair (2018); Sydney Contemporary (2018); and International Contemporary Art Exhibition 2015, Art Gallery le Logge, Assisi (2015).
Frances Crombie | Ocula | 2021