Frank Bowling; Abstractions; Art
Frank Bowling’s luminous abstractions are made through a process that can best be described as a baptism. His relationship with paint is alchemical. Working like a wizard, he pours paints, metallics, gold powder, and ammonia into a cauldron to make a concoction that he then spills forth onto the canvas. “There’s so much water in his work, I’m surprised the paintings don’t drown,” said longtime studio assistant and friend Spencer Richards when I visited the artist’s DUMBO studio this past September. But as Richards, as well as Bowling’s sons Ben and Sacha Bowling, informed me, the paintings do drown, like a baptism, only to be resuscitated into their final form.
This act of drowning and resurrecting can metaphorically represent Frank Bowling’s artistic trajectory across his 70-year practice. His work has drowned several times and has been resurrected tenfold. The 88-year-old abstract painter has only seen great institutional and market acclaim in the last 20 years. His career experienced a mass revival in 2011 when he first gained gallery representation. The artist is now represented by Hauser & Wirth, which, earlier this year, featured his latest work in a solo exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland.