16th January 2017
The Arts Club is proud to present a solo exhibition by the prominent artist Frank Bowling OBE, RA. Now in his early 80s and continuing to create new work, Bowling has a solo show at Haus der Kunst, Munich from 23 June – 22 October 2017 and his work will feature in the Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power at Tate Modern from 12 July – 22 October 2017. The Arts Club presents a dynamic survey of works spanning over 50 years of Bowling’s career.
Bowling left his native country of British Guiana at 19 years old to move to London where he later studied at the Royal College of Art, graduating with a silver medal. Bowling started his artistic career as a figurative painter, and, following his move to New York in 1967, he met leading artists of the era such as Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. This triggered a powerful transitional phase in Bowling’s artistic development, towards abstraction.
During his period in New York from the late 60s until the early 70s, Bowling started experimenting with material, structure, process and colour. He began by creating the ‘Map Paintings’, which were partly influenced by his encounter with the work of Pop artists Larry Rivers and Jasper Johns whom he met while living at the Chelsea Hotel. Within the series, the canvas is layered with stencilled outlines of maps of Australia, Africa and South America, occupying a space between abstract and colour field painting. Later Bowling would form friendships with Mel Edwards, Larry Poons and Sam Gilliam, whose work was recently the subject of a solo exhibition at The Arts Club.
In 1971 Bowling had a landmark solo show at the Whitney Museum and encountered the American art critic Clement Greenberg, who became deeply influential and a catalyst for Bowling’s focus on abstraction and process. In 1973 Bowling developed a technique of pouring the paint directly onto a slanted canvas, allowing the wet paint to gradually cascade down the surface. A series of these iconic Poured Paintings were the subject of his solo exhibition at Tate Britain in 2013, examples of these paintings will be on show at The Arts Club.
In the early 80s, Bowling moved on to experiment with geometry and form. He began building layers on the canvas by adding foam and other found objects, exploring further possibilities of abstract painting. His use of acrylic gel is particularly indicative of his ground-breaking approach at this time. In recent years, the octogenarian artist has adapted his techniques; he now paints with the canvas placed on a table and continues to create new work every day in his London studio.
The exhibition is curated by Pernilla Holmes and Amelie von Wedel of Wedel Art. The Arts Club would like to thank Hales Gallery.