Colour & Experimentation: Frank Bowling at Tate Britain

Kaieteurtoo a painting by Frank Bowling is On Show until 26th August in Tate Britain’s first major retrospective of the artists’ 60-year career.

Kaieteurtoo by Frank Bowling

© Frank Bowling

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About Kaieteurtoo
A rush of green lines runs down the centre of the canvas. Kaieteur Falls, a waterfall that plunges into the Potaro River in central Guyana, is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. Like many of Frank Bowling’s atmospheric, joyous paintings, Kaieteurtoo references the tropical paradise of his childhood. As he stated in 1995: ‘Guyana is where I was born, and the name of the place is the land of waters, everywhere you go in Guyana there is water’.

What kind of technique was used?
To achieve the sense of a downpour, Bowling set up his canvas at a 45 degree angle on a trestle table, and poured acrylic paint from the top of the canvas allowing the colours to mix and flow freely. Sometimes the discarded lids of the jam jars in which he mixed paint – or other discarded objects – found their way into the work.

Bowling pioneered this method of creating abstract, atmospheric paintings in the 1970s after having spent time in New York looking at the work of Abstract Expressionists like Larry Poons. His concern is with the materiality of painting. He is especially interested in how form and colour interact to create a tactile, sensuous presence on the surface of a canvas. Bowling’s intuitive, instinctive way of working allows certain forms and associations to emerge. In the past he has described for example how trees have literally blossomed on the surface of his canvas.

As best said by Bowling himself, in 2007: ‘I do not want to illustrate anything, but to make the paint dance’.

In 2015, Kaieteurtoo featured in No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990, a group exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Who is Frank Bowling?
Frank Bowling was born in Bartica, British Guyana in 1936. He first ‘discovered art’ as a teenager, when doing his National Service in London in 1953. He studied at Regent Street Polytechnic, and then at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1962. Since the 1960s, he has divided his time between London and New York, maintaining a studio in each city. He has had many solo exhibitions in the United States, principally in New York, Detroit and Chicago. In 2005, Bowling was the first black artist to be recognized by the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) in London. His work is represented in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate, London. In 2013, he had a solo show, Map Paintings at Hales Gallery, London; and in 2014, Frank Bowling at 80 was held at Spanierman Modern, New York.

Further Information

Frank Bowling
Tate Britain
London SW1P 4RG

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7887 8888