Frank Bowling: Penumbral Light

Penumbral Light is a solo exhibition by the Guyana-born British artist Frank Bowling, which showcases recently created abstract paintings, mostly created during the 2020 London lockdown. His relentless transformation of the pictorial plane continues in the current work, which continues to break new ground through the artist's use of multiple washes, thick impasto textures, acrylic gels, stitched canvas, and metallic and pearlescent paints.

Using a host of vivid hues in water-based paints, from acid greens and burnt yellows to neon pinks and deep reds, works such as ‘Towards the Palace of the Peacock’ (2020) and ‘Up a Tree’ (2021) evoke the vibrancy of past series, while highlighting a more relaxed and fluid approach to the artist's painting process. With the occasional help, he dipped many of his canvases in water, then washed and layered the paint and let the drips of paint blend, swirl and flow on the canvas. He balls often intervene in this process by using a hand-held spray bottle to alter the form and route of running paint, such as ‘Watermelon Bight’ and ‘Oriented Light’ (both 2020) hint at the speed with which these water droplets travel across the canvas. The themes of water, coastline and memory are at the heart of the work and are evoked through dry areas of layered paint that evoke boundaries, as seen in ‘Penumbral Lite’ (2020), evoking a map of bowling Early series such as paintings from the 1960s.

Drawing on memory and imagination, the works on display are largely inspired by Guyana’s early experiences with light, and the light surrounding the River Thames, which the artist crosses daily on his way to his London studio.

Photo Credit: @frankbowlingstudio

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