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The Map Paintings 1967-1971 Frank Bowling OBE RA

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2015
Published by: Hales Gallery
Year published: 2015
Number of pages: 69

image of The Map Paintings 1967-1971 Frank Bowling OBE RA

Handsome catalogue, The Map Paintings 1967-1971, Frank Bowling’s third solo exhibition at Hales Gallery, London. The artist’s map paintings had been growing in visibility over the past several years, though as referenced in this exhibition’s title, they had been executed several decades earlier, for exhibitions such as  Bowling’s solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971. This was a revised edition of the catalogue - “revised edition published in 2015 (limited edition of 300) first published in 2013 (limited edition of 200). Within the catalogue, Bowling’s map paintings are extensovely documented, and the colour plates of paintings are interspersed with several double page installation views of the Hales Gallery display, and af fascinating installation view of Bowling’s paintings as seen in his exhibition at the Whitnry Museum of American Art, New York, November 5 - December 6, 1971. A smaller installation view of the Whitney exhibition, in monochrome, is reproduced as part of the catalogue text written by Mel Gooding. Another fascinating archival photograph in the publication is a colour photograph of ‘Frank Bowling in his Broadway Studio, New York, 1968’.

Mel Gooding had over a number of years distinguished himself as a passionae advocate of Bowling’s work and had written a number of essays on his practice, including a monograph on Bowling published by the Royal academy in 2011. Gooding continued his reflections on the significance of Bowling’s map paintings in his substantial essay for this catalogue. This was an absorbing and highly informative text that, with a casual but notable degree of familiarity, contained pronounced aspects of biography, alongside the text’s other impulses.

From Gooding’s text: “For Bowling the complexities and complications of mid-to-late ‘60s New York art were compounded by the problematic issues of personal expression and public representation that much occupied the thoughts and discussions of his black friends and associates in a largely segregated art world. Being a self-confident British-Colonial outsider, from somewhere else, Bowling moved freely betwen those racial hemispheres, having cose friends in both. It was, moreover in the great mainstream of western art (in America and beyond) that he was ambituously intent on making his presence felt, and for him the problem in New York in 1967 was more than simply formal and stylistic.” (page 8)

“The ‘map’ paintings do not register any emotive response to the cruelty, pity and sorrow of Black history in the Americas or elsewhere in the Atlantic ambit, nor do they carry any reference to the heroics of historical resistance. This does not in any way preclude readings of the paintings in which that history might figure as a moving resonance. In critical responses to the quasi-colour-abstraction of the ‘map’ paintings, connotation is all: ‘seeing’ is one thing, ‘interpreting’ another, and this is so even in the fruitful recent discussions that have been concerned with the problematic nature of Bowling’s avowed abstraction.”

The notable degree of familiarity aluded to above might have been on account of “a recorded conversation with the present author in September 2013” mentioned on page 10 of the catalogue.

Contents as follows:

Frank Bowling: The Msp Paintings 1967-1971, Mel Gooding

extensive selection of colour plates, interspersed with gallery installation views and aforementioned portrait of the artist in his studio

one page CV, including Photography Credits

portrait of Bowling in his London studio 2012

Related people

»  (Sir) Frank Bowling OBE, RA

Born, 1935 - 1937 (probably 1936) in British Guiana (now Guyana) Caribbean/S. America

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Hales Gallery

London, United Kingdom