In "Ticket to Ride" Michael Bell created a cinematic painting series as a journey through one woman’s harrowing search for redemption, only nothing inspires redemption quite like revenge.
"The N and the R" is the final painting of nine large-format mixed-media paintings that range from emotionally-driven portraits as allegories reminiscent of dramatic film-stills to dark, ambiguous hotel room scenes and metropolitan landscapes on 60" X 60" canvases overlaid with mixed-media subway maps painted into the background of each work.
Bell’s narrative strategy is for the viewer to question how much of Ticket to Ride is just a dream, and how much is rooted in reality. Its major movement is the journey taken by an Italian Femme Fetale that begins on a New York City subway platform awaiting her metaphorical “train” and her journey continues -- painting by painting -- like a roller coaster ride through her mind.
In the end, the littered hotel room scene from Work 2 is mirrored with an empty hotel room scene in Work 8. The final scene (Work 9) brings the viewer full circle to the same Femme fetale on the subway platform in Work 1, to make us wonder, “Was this all just a dream or a foreshadowing of events to come?” On some level – visually and psychologically - every scene shimmers with unreality from one painting to the next like pieces to a puzzle or clues to a crime, only Bell’s work compels the viewer to participate in the ambiguity of the drama.