Parsifal is the name of a mid-19th century opera by German composer Richard Wagner based on the 13th century epic poem by Wolfram von Eschenbach about the Arthurian knight, Percival (spelt “Parzival” by von Eschenbach) and his quest for the Holy Grail. Bell previously explored this imagery in multi-media works under the title Renunciation (2012). Bell worked on the Parsifal prints under the guidance of US-based master printer Phil Sanders while he was spending time at the David Krut Print Workshop at Arts on Main earlier this year (2014). Sanders encouraged Bell to rework her earlier paintings into colour etchings. The knight Percival is depicted by Bell as a youth, not quite yet a man, again symbolising innocence, as with the Spanish Infanta in Reveal.
Parsifal III is the most minimal and abstract of the set. It was made using the third plate for the image, which gives hints of the horse. This print is showcasing the process of the series: “Parsifal III pays tribute to the process of printing. One of the advantages of printmaking is that we don’t have to lose the beautiful underlayer but can actually highlight it as a print in its own right” – DKW master printer Jillian Ross.