(b. 1957, Johannesburg, South Africa)



Deborah Bell is one of South Africa’s most celebrated contemporary artists. She works in a range of media on canvas and paper, produces dry point etchings and large-scale bronzes. Her earlier more political work has given way to a broader, deeper investigation into the border been mortality and immortality, matter and spirit, presence and absence, the quotidian and the mythic, the grounded and transcendent. In recent years she has developed an immediately recognisable visual language, her images simple, stark, symbolic – grounded, silent, still, poised. As Ricky Burnett has stated: at the very edge of time.


In her iconography she draws from a range of cultures (including African, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, early Christian and European) and a range of philosophies (especially the Buddhist preoccupation with stillness and the shedding of attachment and the ego) and psychologies (more Jung than Freud) – but her work digs deeper, arriving finally out of an internal and personal place that Bell occupies in the world as an artist, a woman and an explorer. A central task is to make the unknown present – apprehended in a series of powerful images that are both of her and beyond her. Her earlier figures, characterised by entrapment (in the country, in the body), have given away to figures embodying the seeker – often accompanied by boats, horses, chariots. Images of lions, dogs, horses and angels recur. These are often intermediary figures between the physical world and a higher more spiritual realm. They are also aspects of herself – the powerful daemons that reside in all of us, which are often accompanied by solitary female figures, some full of assertive confidence, others more vulnerable and less sure of their agency. Bell is interested in the half-formed image – the unwritten, as yet unformed spaces we move towards in our quest for self-knowledge. More recent work has also become more concerned with surrender – to the higher self, the mystery of the universe, the simplicity of the present. All her art, she has stated, works towards the Zen mark: the single gesture of absolute presence. Her quest is ongoing – and has left in its wake a series of hugely powerful, totemic images from what Yeats called Spiritus Mundi.     




Deborah Bell has worked with a great variety of media during her career and has collaborated on various historically important projects with contemporaries such as William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins. Bell received her BAFA (Hons) and MFA degrees at the University of Witwatersrand, and has been an artist working abroad and a lecturer at various South African tertiary institutions, including the University of the Witwatersrand. Bell lives and works from her studio in Magaliesburg, as well as being a collaborator at the David Krut studios on several projects.






Selected works from Enthroned, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

Co-Respondences, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

Enthroned, CIRCA Gallery, Cape Town


Invocations to the Plate (Including Catalogue)

David Krut Projects, Johannesburg

142A Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood


Uncovering ancient memory – 15 years of etching,David Krut Projects, Cape Town

Recent Paintings and Sculpture, Everard Read Gallery, Franschhoek

Uncovering Ancient Memory - 15 Years of Etching, David Krut Projects, Cape Town


Blood and Gold, Everard Read Gallery, London


Renunciation, David Krut, Johannesburg

Dreams of Immortality, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg and Cape Town


What Would Wisdom Say to Your Dark Heart?, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town


A Far Country, John Martin Gallery, London and at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival


Presence, CIRCA & Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg


Alchemy, David Krut, Johannesburg


Flux, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Collaborations, David Krut, Johannesburg


Objects of Power: memory of metal, memory of wood, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg


Crossings and Monuments, Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein


Crossings and Monuments, Aardklop Festival Potchefstroom University Library Gallery


Sentinels, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg


Unearthed, Joao Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town


Unearthed, The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg


The Journey Home, Art First, London


Displacements, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg


Muses and Lamentations, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg


Deborah Bell, Potchesfstroom Museum


Deborah Bell, Market Gallery, Johannesburg





The Portrait Show, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg


Collaborations 1986-1997 (11 years of collaborative projects between artists Kentridge, Hodgins and Bell) at the

Johannesburg Art Gallery, in association with the FNB Vita Awards.

‘UB101:’ A portfolio of etchings done in conjunction with Kentridge and Hodgins. Exhibited at the Grahamstown Festival and at the Gertrude Posel Gallery. Exhibition curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith.


Memo, installation with video at the Grahamstown festival in collaboration with William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins.

Lamentations, Art First, Cork Street, London.


Easing the Passing (of the hours), Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

Portraits in the round, ceramic exhibition in collaboration with William Kentridge and Retief van Wyk at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Easing the Passing (of the hours), Waterfront, Cape Town. Computer Animation, laser prints and drawings in collaboration

with William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins.


Little Morals, a portfolio of etchings done in conjunction with Hodgins and Kentridge, exhibited at the Cassierer Gallery,

Johannesburg, Gallery International Cape Town and Taking Liberties, Durban.


Exhibited with Jenny Stadler and Nagel at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Hogarth in Johannesburg, a portfolio of etchings done in conjunction with Hodgins and

Kentridge. This exhibition travelled to all the major centres in South Africa.


MAFA exhibition, Rembrandt Gallery, Milner Park, Johannesburg.


Exhibited with Hodgins and Sassoon, Carriage House Gallery.




2016 -7 

TACIT : “A group exhibition acknowledging 20 years of conjunction and  reciprocity at Dionysus Sculpture Works’ studio and foundry” , NWU Gallery, Potchefstroom and William Humphey’s, Kimberley and Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria.


Bronze, Steel & Stone, CIRCA & Everard Read, Johannesburg and Cape Town

1:54 Everard Read Exhibition, London.


Summer of Sculpture, Everard Read, Cape Town.

Centenary Exhibition, CIRCA & Everard Read, Johannesburg.


Rainbow Nation: Group exhibition of South African Sculptors Museum Beelden Aan Zee, Den Haag.


HORSE: 60 South African artists curated by Ricky Burnett, CIRCA & Everard Read, Johannesburg.


TWENTY, 20 Years Of SA Sculpture, Nirox Foundation.


Contemporary Sculpture in the Landscape, Nirox Foundation.


Lift Off II, Goodman Gallery Cape, Cape Town.

David Krut print workshop, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria.


ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH, Miami Beach, USA, in collaboration with Goodman Gallery.

Works on Paper, Collaborative prints from David Krut Print Workshop, Franchise Gallery,Johannesburg.

David Krut Collaborations: 25 Years of Prints and Multiples, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.


Earthworks/Claybodies, Sasol Museum Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch.


Earthworks/Claybodies, Pretoria Art Museum.

Earthworks/Claybodies, Standard Bank Centre Gallery, Johannesburg.


Icons for the Millenium, Atlanta, USA.


The Paper Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

Emergence, Group Show, National Arts festival, Grahamstown.

Artery, A.V.A Gallery, Cape Town – in conjunction with the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

Artists in residence, Standard Bank National Arts Festival, 25th Anniversary, Grahamstown.


Earth Hues – Contemporary African Art, Group Show, World Space, Washington DC, USA.

100 Artists Protest detention without trial, in aid of DPSC, Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

Artists for Human Rights Exhibition, Durban Exhibition Centre.

4 UNISA Lecturers, Bloemfontein .

UNISA Art Lecturers, Pretoria Art Museum.



Images and Form: Prints, drawings and sculpture from Southern Africa and Nigeria, Brunei Gallery, University of London and

Edinburgh College of Art, U.K.

The Gencor Collection, Sandton Art Gallery, and The Grahamstown Festival.

Kempton Park Metropolitan Substructure Fine Arts Award Show, Kempton Park.

New Art from South Africa, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, U.K.

Les Arts de la Resistance, (Fin de Siecle a Johannesburg), Galerie convergence, Galerie Jean-Christian.

Fradin, Galerie Michel Luneau, Galerie les Petit Murs, Nantes, France.

Not Quite a Christmas Exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

CRAM, A.V.A Gallery, Cape Town – in conjunction with The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Gay Rights: Rites, Re-writes, Travelling Exhibition, South Africa.

Group Salon, Rose Korber representing artists at the Bay Hotel, Cape Town.

Common and Uncommon Ground: South African Art to Atlanta, City Gallery East, Atlanta, USA.

Vita Awards, Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Tomorrow is Now, First Canadian Place and Knights Galleries International, Toronto, Canada.

Barber Signs, The Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg.

Recent Drawings, Gallery on Tyrone, Johannesburg.

Ceramics Biennal, Sandton Art Gallery.


The Bag Factory: The First Five Years, the Civic Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg.

The Art of Tea, Kim Sacks Gallery, Johannesburg.

Group Salon, Rose Korber representing artists at the Bay Hotel, Cape Town.


Group Show, Newtown, Johannesburg.

Anything Boxed, Group Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

South African works on Paper, North Western University of Illinois, Chicago, United States


Gallery on Tyrone, Johannesburg.

Vita Awards, Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Momentum Life Exhibition, Pretoria.

Internations of Millenium, Newtown Gallery, Johannesburg.


ICA, 50 Johannesburg Artists, Johannesburg.

Paris: The Catalyst, Alliance Francaise, Durban.

Looking at Art: Looking at Watercolours, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

Vita Awards, Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Works made in August, Newtown Gallery, Johannesburg.


Cape Town Triennal.

Painted People: Painted Spaces, Newtown Galleries, Johannesburg.

Hand Coloured Graphics, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

Tiny Tapestry Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Women choose Women, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Art from South Africa, MOMA, Oxford, UK.

Standard Bank Drawing Competition, Johannesburg.


Volkskas Atelier Award Exhibition, South African Vita Awards, Johannesburg Art Gallery.

African Encounters, Dome Gallery, New York and Washington, USA.

The Little Big Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


CASA (Culture for Another South Africa), conference in Amsterdam, Holland.

Volkskas Atelier Award exhibition, South African Association of the Arts, Pretoria.


Volkskas Atelier Award Exhibition, South African Association of Arts, Pretoria.


Cape Town Triennal, New Visions, market Gallery, Johannesburg.

11 Figurative Artists, Market Gallery, Johannesburg.





MEDAL OF HONOUR FOR VISUAL ARTS (Sculpture and Painting), Die Suid-Afrikanse Academie for Wetenskap en Kuns


APSA Award for the best New Signature, Ceramics Biennal


Vita Quarterly Award, runner-up for Main Award

Mamba Award for the Most Sustained Artist


Merit Prize Winner, Volkskas Atelier




BCE, Johannesburg

Bell, Dewar and Hall, Johannesburg

Bristol Myers Squibb Corp. USA

The Leeu Collection, Franschhoek

Delaire Graff Wine Estate, Stellenbosch

Friends of the National Gallery, Cape Town

Hara Museum, Tokyo

Johannesburg Art Gallery

Johannesburg City Council

King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth

Legal Resources Centre, Johannesburg

Museum of Modern Art, New York

MTN Art Institute, Johannesburg

Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C

Pretoria Art Museum

Roodepoort Museum

SA National Gallery, Cape Town

BHP Billiton South Africa Ltd.

Sanlam Collection

Sasol Collection

Smithsonian Insitute, Washington, D.C

Standard Bank Investment Corporation, Johannesburg

Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg


UNISA Art Gallery

University of Pietermaritzburg Collection

University of the Orange Free State Collection

University of the Witwatersrand Collection





Sculpture for Standard Bank


Large sculpture for Wits Business School

Artist-in-Residence, Standard Bank National Arts Festival – 25th Anniversary, Grahamstown.


Graphics for Weekly Mail Film Festival Poster

Involvement in movie animation for Arts Alive

Title sequence for Grass Roots, NNTV


Graphics for Weekly Mail Film Festival Poster


Set of 6 Graphics for First National Bank