Since Jason Robert Bell’s last exhibition in Chicago — heroic-feeling paintings of his yeti-like alter-ego — the Brooklyn-based artist has both miniaturized and stretched out cosmically. His new work comprises an enigmatic rogues’ gallery of small portraits, which look like religious icons from an arcane universe or little gods trapped in amber. Blending the bounty of his imagination with mythological and religious references, Bell paints strange beings in lush color and encases them in layers of shiny epoxy amid swirling metallic pigments. This is fantastical stuff that might fall flat in lesser hands, but Bell gives it a playful, vibrant sense of life, further enhanced by each painting’s enticing gem-like presence. Six impish knee-high sculptures fill out the show.
– Karsten Lund