Frank Bowling

London / New York

Hauser & Wirth
548 W 22nd Street
New York
Chelsea
May 5th 2021 — Jul 30th 2021

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In 1953, Frank Bowling arrived in London. While the city incubated his practice, yielding a distinctive early aesthetic drawing from sociopolitical issues, expressionistic figuration, and pop art, after a few visits to New York in the early ’60s, Bowling set up a studio at 535 Broadway in 1966. There he went bigger in scale, moved his canvases off the easel, and embraced abstraction. In the decades since, the newly knighted Bowling has split life and work between the cultural capitals, detouring to a warehouse in DUMBO in the ’90s and ultimately settling in South London’s Peacock Yard.

The artist’s transatlantic comings and goings ground the narrative arc of his inaugural solo show at Hauser & Wirth, presented concurrently at the gallery’s New York and London locations. Featuring works made over the scope of his six-decade-long career, the ground floor of the gallery’s Chelsea space sequences two rooms displaying his sweeping, exuberantly hued paintings, some incorporating foam and other found detritus.

Noted for his ongoing experiments with abstract technique and materiality, Bowling’s formal innovation is embedded with allusions to displacement, colonialism, the Black experience, as well as his autobiography. Both created in 1971, Texas Louise and Polish Rebecca are examples of his layered “maps paintings,” a series in which he reorients Western-centric world maps. The concept, for Bowling, took shape after receiving an optical projector from artist Larry Rivers in the mid-’60s. In the compositions, bright pools of paint overlay stenciled landmasses and silkscreened images as the sharp contours of South America come into focus; polychromatic pigments are applied to the canvas via pour, spray, and stain. These monumental pieces anchor the exhibition, while others smaller in scale and utilizing found objects—such as Piano to Guyana (2004) [pictured]—demonstrate Bowling’s mastery of vigorous color and form. —Colleen Kelsey

Frank Bowling, Piano to Guyana, 2004. Acrylic, acrylic gel and found objects on canvas with marouflage, 87 3/4 x83 7/8 inches; 90 1/2 x 86 inches. © Frank Bowling. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2021. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

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  • Through
    May 29th

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  • Through
    Jun 6th

    An economical survey of Jonas Mekas, “The Camera Was Always Running” serves as a touching introduction to the Lithuanian filmmaker and champion of avant-garde cinema.

  • Through
    May 22nd

    Exhibited with melodic sight-lines, Mary Manning’s “Ambient Music” hums with the background noise of the subconscious.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The words masterful and mastery assert themselves the instant one encounters the works in “My Body,” both for Nancy Grossman’s command of a wide range of skills and her active state of dominance, identity and selfhood.

  • Through
    May 23rd

    Full of whimsy and delight, Fernanda Laguna’s work in “The Path of the Heart” cuts an incisive critique of sociopolitical issues in Latin America.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The work in Valentina Vaccarella’s “Bless this Life” rests on a simple irony: monogrammed, embroidered French bridal linens pulled taut across stretcher bars and besmirched by rough images of modern madams.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    Daniel Lie’s “Unnamed Entities” at the New Museum challenges the antiseptic aim of curation and conservation by imagining a different kind of organic art that needs to be nurtured rather than preserved.

  • Through
    Jan 2nd 2023

    The sonic encounters provoked by Camille Norment’s elaborate acoustic artworks serve as agents for social consciousness.

  • Ongoing

    Day’s End, an elegiac memorial to and stubborn ghost of eras bygone, will also serve as silent witness to the inevitable changes to come.

  • Ongoing

    Dia’s recent acquisition of works by Charles Gaines forms the basis of this survey, which includes the artist’s first forays into mathematics-based grid drawings and other early experiments in medium and form.