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Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Frank Bowling, O.B.E., RA, opening September 26, 2015. Works in the exhibition range from the artist’s early Map Paintings to his more recent canvases which focus on pure abstraction.

Bowling began his career at the Royal College of Art after moving from his native British Guyana to London in 1953. During his time at the RCA, he studied alongside David Hockney and Peter Blake and became involved in the British Pop Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Aided by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Bowling moved to New York in 1966. It was during these formative American years that the artist produced his celebrated Map Paintings. These quasiabstract works were emblematic of the artist’s shift from figuration to a distinctly new, more abstract territory.

This exhibition includes two Map Paintings in which Color Field backdrops are layered with stenciled images of Africa, South America, and Australia. Dramatic use of color is always a key element in these paintings, with rich hues outlining the southern continents, particularly Africa, and suggesting a broader embrace of Afrocentrism. One monumentally sized work in the exhibition, Mel Edwards Decides, 1968, adds social commentary by referencing the African American artist Melvin Edwards’ decision not to be part of an exhibition of African American Art at the Whitney Museum in New York.

Following a solo exhibition at the Whitney in 1971 (in the same period as shows featuring Melvin Edwards, Jack Whitten, and Alma Thomas), Bowling met influential critic Clement Greenberg, who became a regular visitor to the artist’s studio and an important influence on his practice. With Greenberg’s advice and encouragement, any lingering doubts about his commitment to Modernism were abandoned, and Bowling began to progress further toward pure abstraction, removing all recognizable imagery in order to focus on process, materials and color. Early 1970’s works such as Breeze and Yonder II, carry on a dialogue with masters of American Abstract Expressionism such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. In paintings such as Looking at Barney & Mark, Bowling even references their names in titling the work. As time went on, the artist combined an experimental use of collaged materials with a highly personal sun drenched color that has culminated in recent paintings such as Rachel’s Call Too.  

Since the late 1970’s, Bowling has divided his time between studios in London and Brooklyn. Bowling’s work can be found in numerous prestigious collections including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Tate Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. A recent exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art (February 20, 2015- August 2, 2015) marked the first time in nearly 45 years that Bowling’s Map Painting series was on view since its debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971.  

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