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Recent Paintings by Frank Bowling OBE RA

For Miles and Susan, 2011, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 73x74in

Exhibition preview

HALES Gallery is presenting its second exhibition with Frank Bowling OBE RA. The exhibition, Recent Paintings, focuses on works made over the past two years and have never been exhibited before, and will on display from May 31 to July 7, 2012.

Recent Paintings at Hales Gallery coincides with Drop, Roll, Slide, Drip…Frank Bowling’s Poured Paintings 1973-1978, a display of Bowling’s work at Tate Britain, which continues until March 31, 2013.

In his new body of work, Bowling has focused his interest in the sublime and has continued his habitual forming of paintings around remembered incidents and characters with whom he has come into recent contact. In this respect the works are romantic although their formal qualities are as rigorous as before.

As a senior statesman for abstract painting whose commitment and approach has spanned over 60 years, Bowling’s age has meant that he needed some assistance in the making of these large and ambitious works. Close friends and family have been called upon with their involvement becoming an important element in the realisation of the works.

Titles of the work are dedications to his family and friends and though we may not understand particular references, a poetic resonance is formed creating a bond between viewer and painting.

Bowling’s recent paintings continue to enjoy a rich hue and vivid use of colour. Earlier in his career (60/70s), he did battle with the formal aspects of American abstraction where Barnett Newman’s paintings were a constant challenge to his own oeuvre.

In these new paintings, he returns to some of the same formal struggles and explores them with a hugely diverse palette of merged and transformed tones where the paint pools and provides a vivid backdrop to his drips, splashes and distortions. The surfaces are deeply textured from subsequent applications of paint mixed with inclusions onto which Bowling applies fresh coats.

Some of the collected and applied ‘stuff’ has been camouflaged having been cut with pinking shears, a subtle and personal reference to memories of his seamstress Mother. These references to his personal life, whether it be past or present, and the history of classical Western art, are key to Bowling’s work.

Born and raised in Guyana, Bowling arrived in London in 1953 where he grew up as an artist, beginning at the Royal College. In the mid 60’s, urged by his American friends, he moved to New York where he pursued a successful career, including a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971. From the late 70’s onwards he has divided his time between his studios in London and Brooklyn.

Frank Bowling’s paintings have been widely exhibited internationally including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1971); Serpentine Gallery, London, Bowling on through the century (1986); and UK travelling exhibition, Frank Bowling: Bending to the Grid (2003).

Bowling’s work can be found in numerous prestigious collections including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Tate Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA