Home » Uncategorized » Exhibition Review: Frank Bowling at Tate Britain from 31 May to 26 August 2019

Exhibition Review: Frank Bowling at Tate Britain from 31 May to 26 August 2019

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tate Britain presents the first major retrospective of work by Frank Bowling. This comprehensive exhibition spans the full range of Bowling’s six-decade career, bringing together rarely seen works and the artist’s best known works. Bowling was born in Guyana (then British Guiana) and moved to London in 1953. While serving in the RAF he met Keith Critchlow, who introduced him to the London art scene. Although Bowling was initially interested in poetry, he went on to study at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney and R.B Kitaj and became the first Black artist nominated as a Royal Academician.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Bowling’s early work reflected the political and social turmoil around him but he was always keen not to be pigeon holed in one particular genre. At this time the artist used figuration and abstraction in his work.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In 1966, Bowling moved to New York and spent most of the following decade in the city. The large canvas of Bowling’s Variety Store 1967 provide evidence of the artist’s ability to use a number of different elements in his work.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Gradually his work became more abstract, Ten of Bowling’s celebrated ‘Map Paintings’ created during this period are featured in the exhibition. These paintings comprise fields of colour overlaid with stenciled maps of the world which often allow Latin America and Africa dominate the canvas.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Bowling in the 1970s began to experiment with ‘Poured Paintings’, in which the artist would pouring acrylic paint from different heights to create rivers of colour and fluidity.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The rooms in the exhibition entitled Cosmic Space and More Land than Landscape includes works that began to build texture on the canvas using a wide variety of objects.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

There is a change of pace in the Water and Light room in which Bowling in his Great Thames series combines his abstract paintings with light that is a reflection of his admiration for British landscape painters such as Turner and Constable.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The last two rooms called Layering and Stitching, and Explosive Experimentation illustrates that despite his advanced years, Bowling is still experimenting with stitching canvases together to create a variety of effects.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This attractive and enjoyable exhibition provides evidence that the work of Frank Bowling deserves greater recognition. The artist has always been considered something of an outsider in the art world. One of the possible reasons for this is the artist has been difficult to pin down to a particular school due to his constant experimentation. However a common theme throughout all is work is a vibrancy and dynamic use of colour. Even at 85, Bowling is still exploring with geometry and the fluidity of paint on canvas, this exhibition is a testament to Bowling’s confidence to find his own artistic voice  and his ability not to pander to fad and fashion.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Britain website here

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