Alan Ibell is a painter based in New Zealand (b. Christchurch). He studied Painting at the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in Dunedin, New Zealand. Alan spent several years in Melbourne before returning to New Zealand in 2016. He is currently based in Palmerston North, NZ.
Ibell is interested in painting as narrative and uses figuration as a way to convey a poetic or abstract visual experience. To this end he casts imagery from dreams, memories, personal anxieties and existential musings into the works to create absurd human narratives about transition and the search for fulfilment, be it spiritual or other. The painting takes on the form of an object upon which to meditate, a space for contemplation.
The space within the paintings is multi dimensional; it is at once the inevitable flat surface and an illusionary one. The various narrative elements unfold across these two competing planes. Ibell is interested in images that express a kind of poetry that, coupled with the paintings title present the viewer with a visual experience that often plays out as a riddle or double entendre. He plays on the loaded literary connections that a symbol or motif can embody and the ways in which they can be subverted to produce new allegorical meanings. The artist borrows from a number of sources ranging from Greek and Roman mythology to pop music and inserts these references into a kind of parallel environment with a logic that builds upon these foundations. By employing tropes from the world of religious parable and mythology (such as the serpent and it’s many associations to ritual, danger, and life-cycle) Ibell continues in a tradition of narrative painting harking back to the early Renaissance artists such as Giotto and Piero della Francesca in order to depict an existentialist view of a fractured and secular modern world.
Ibell has been a finalist in New Zealand’s longest running art award the Wallace Art Awards (2018, 2016 and 2009) and received 1st prize in the City of Dunedin Art Awards (Dunedin, NZ-2010) and 1st prize in the Edinburgh Realty Art Award (Dunedin, NZ-2009). He has work included in three publications 20 / 20: Twenty Artists / Twenty Writers (2017), 20 / 20: Twenty Artists / Twenty Writers (2015) and The Artists: 21 Practitioners in New Zealand Contemporary Art c. 2013-2015 (2013).