From Guyana to the Tate, the Painting of Frank Bowling
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A half a century isn’t enough to reinvent painting - at the age of 85, Frank Bowling works at it daily, experimenting with new techniques and materials. The Tate Britain is dedicating a retrospective to his spectacular and visionary art, a voyage through abstraction and memory. On display, iconic series and works rarely shown in public, created over an arc of sixty years, testament to a research of the widest breadth. The first black artist to enter the British Royal Academy, Bowling came to London from Guyana in 1953, to join with David Hockney and Ronald Brook Kitaj in the group of the Royal College of Art. Always moving from one side of the Atlantic to another, he knew how to merge his profound knowledge of European art with the abstract ferments he matured overseas, adding his very personal narrative to the blend. From his first figurative works, such as Cover Girl from 1966, to Sacha Jason Guyana Dream (1989), inspired by his return to the country of his birth, along with his son Sacha, the itinerary offers a lengthy path of discovery, yet does not exclude works created over the last decade, marked by an explosive desire for change. Not to be missed, the famed gigantic Map Paintings, created in the United States during the protests for equal rights of the Sixties and animated by new ideas about Black Art, such as in the Poured Paintings where the cola-colour pours onto the inclined surfaces like a “cascade of lava”. Then there’s his sculptural approach of the Eighties, which transformed his canvases into three-dimensional tactile objects inspired by the riverbed of the Thames and English landscape masters like Turner and Constable.