Hales Project Room, New York
6 September - 15 October 2017
Hales Gallery is pleased to announce the first exhibition in the new Project Room on the Lower East Side: a solo presentation of works from 1978 to 1986 by Frank Bowling, to coincide with Bowling’s solo exhibition of recent paintings at Hales London.
Frank Bowling: Metropolitanblooms focuses on a key moment in career of an artist now widely recognised as one of the masters in the field of abstraction in the second half of the 20th century. A decade after his initial plunge into the New York art scene and the world of abstract painting, Bowling – then at the vanguard of Greenbergian post-painterly abstraction – returned to London, both confident in his instinctive understanding of and facility for paint, colour and form, and restless to experiment with new techniques and traditions.
Working from his new studio in London’s Pimlico, a stone’s throw from the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain), Bowling found that his painting was evolving in response to its new environment. The newly concentrated dimensions of his canvases and sheets of paper, now being made in a studio measuring just 12 x 14 feet, stand in marked contrast to the vast colour fields and poured monoliths of the 1960s and ’70s, demonstrating an artist committed to experimentation with both medium and scale.
Perhaps the most significant change, however, was the rediscovery of a distinctly painterly voice. Turning his attention to the spectacular use of natural light and landscape in the work of the great English masters – Gainsborough, Turner and Constable – Bowling began to let go of the rigours of New York formalism, giving way to a renewed expressive urge, consummated in the creation of a series of masterful constellations of light and shade.
Fusing clear intention and virtuosic improvisation, Bowling called on his expansive repertoire of techniques to manipulate the surface of his paintings, whether on paper or canvas: pouring; staining; scratching; creating layered streams, pools and diffusions of gorgeous colour; interrupting currents with drips and splashes; scattering chemicals to create mottles and veins. These complex manipulations, the whorls of paint and variations of light and darkness, resulted in a series of enigmatic, highly expressive shapes and patterns that simultaneously evoke the land, sea and skies.
Painted in the period leading to Bowling’s seminal exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 1986, these compact, potent works in many ways express the achievements and ambitions of a mid-career painter hitting his stride, combining experience and assurance with new influences and impulses to dazzling effect.