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If art imitates life, then Phoenix-based painter Rachel Bess is living in a world full of stunningly corporeal ghosts.
Her oil paintings on panel juxtapose surreal backgrounds with portraits so realistic they look like photos of real people frozen in fantastical moments.
It's no wonder, then, that the acclaimed Lisa Sette Gallery
in Scottsdale is now showing Bess' work. For the past few years, Bess' paintings have been represented by Perihelion Arts
in downtown Phoenix, a gallery known for hosting local cutting edge and fringe art (as well as pop art by musicians like Devo singer Mark Mothersbaugh
and former Marilyn Manson bassist Gidget Gein
Her move to Lisa Sette Gallery is a boost, as the gallery's been the launch point for internationally known Phoenix-based artists like Angela Ellsworth
, whose work was chosen for the 17th Biennale of Sydney in Australia. Bess' work will bring a new, darker aesthetic to the gallery, and she's enthusiastic about the move.
Bess' move from Perihelion to Lisa Sette was facilitated by Perihelion co-owner Amy Young and Sette's assistant, Duane Smith. Both of them encouraged Sette to look into Bess' art, and Sette says she liked what she saw.
"I see some great potential there," Sette says. "I'm interested in showing Phoenix artists, and younger artists, because I think the younger artists can learn from the older artists, and vice versa. I don't show anything I don't like."
Perihelion Arts will continue to represent Bess' work in Europe. "We have built a base of collectors for Rachel's work around the world and we know that will continue to grow," Amy Young says. "She is extremely dedicated to her career and it has been a thrill to see nuances in every new show. Her painting is never not stunning."
Lisa Sette says she received the first of Bess' work yesterday morning -- two small paintings. More of Bess' work will arrive at the gallery over the next several months, and the first Rachel Bess show at Lisa Sette Gallery is expected to happen in early 2012
. "Rachel's gonna be busy," Sette says with a laugh.