Frank Bowling by Alastair Levy, 2017. © Alastair Levy.
Frank Bowling, Two Blues, 2018. © Frank Bowling/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; DACS, London. Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Hales Gallery, London; and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.
Frank Bowling is a master colorist known for his large-scale abstract compositions with evocative details layered between oozing, glowing hues. The artist, now in his mid-eighties, has been long overdue for the type of recognition he’s finally getting. After solo shows at Haus der Kunst (curated by the late Okwui Enwezor) and the Dallas Museum of Art, Bowling’s first major retrospective opened at Tate Britain in May.
“Frank Bowling’s paintings are saturated with personal experiences and geo-political references,” said Elena Crippa, Tate’s curator of modern and contemporary British art, who co-curated Bowling’s retrospective with Laura Castagnini. “From monumental expanses of color overlaid with stencilled outlines of maps to works produced stitching together fragments of canvas, they exude an extraordinary sense of open-endedness.”
Bowling, who shows with Alexander Gray Associates, Hales Gallery, and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, has exhibited steadily since the 1960s. However, in the last decade, with museums and galleries becoming serious about telling a more inclusive narrative of contemporary art, Bowling’s inventive and ambitious paintings have become highly sought-after. In June, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced that it had put some of the funds from selling off a Mark Rothko towards acquiring Bowling’s Elder Sun Benjamin (2018)—a show-stopping painting whose broad horizontal bands of color, speckled with stenciled and collaged elements, stretch nearly 10 feet tall and 17 feet wide.