Frank Bowling’s first major retrospective celebrates an artist who constantly pushes the possibilities of paint.
Born in Guyana (then British Guiana) in 1934, at 19 years old Bowling moved to London. He went on to study painting at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj. After graduating with a silver medal, he spent the next 60 years criss-crossing the Atlantic between studios in London and New York. Maturing into a master of his medium, he developed a visionary approach that fuses abstraction with personal memories. Now 85 he still paints every day, experimenting with new materials and techniques.
The exhibition brings together a lifetime of large-scale artworks. It includes key series such as the iconic 'map paintings', the visually arresting ‘poured paintings’ made by pouring paint down an inclined surface, and the sculptural paintings of the 1980s evoking riverbeds, all the way to mature work selected from a recent period of explosive productivity.
The artist has tirelessly explored the material of paint, continuously inventing new techniques that pushed the medium to its limits. This long overdue exhibition doesn’t just offer a rare chance to experience the sheer range of his art, it’s also part of an equally overdue drive to redress the dominance of the white male and give the spotlight to overlooked artists. By the entrance hangs a dreamy expanse of yellow and pink, with dollops of gel meandering across the top like an archipelago.
At 85, Bowling still paints every day from his East London studio, where he carefully directs from a seated position as assistants pour, drip and splash paint across his vast canvases.
Frank Bowling retrospective at Tate Britain, London, from now to 26 August.