The first exhibition dedicated to the sculptures of Frank Bowling presents rare and unpublished works

A new exhibition at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in London – the first to focus on the sculptures of Frank Bowling and the sculptural aspects of his paintings – features rare and previously unseen works

The Stephen Lawrence Gallery presents Frank Bowling and Sculpture, the first exhibition devoted to the artist‘s sculptures and the sculptural aspects of his paintings. Curated by Sam Cornish, the exhibition will offer a rare insight into Bowling’s experimentation in two and three dimensions, exploring the connections between the two mediums that have been previously overlooked. Sculptures from the late 1980s and 1990s will be presented in dialogue with paintings and alongside archival and audio-visual materials deepening Bowling’s engagement with sculpture and sculptors.

Frank Bowling and Sculpture

Hailed as a modern master, Bowling is recognized as one of the great painters of the late 20th century. He recognized his paintings’ deep concern for the experience of the physical world and since the 1980s has incorporated detritus and found objects into their densely textured surfaces. While the relief nature of these works has been noted by commentators, the idea of ​​the sculpture has not been considered in relation to the overall trajectory of Bowling’s work. As Cornish observes, “like Rodin before him, Bowling seeks vitality, matter made alive”.

Frank Bowling and Sculpture
Frank Bowling and Sculpture

The exhibition revolves around a group of sculptures made by the artist in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which constitute his only direct, sustained and complete foray into the medium. The welded steel forms of king crab1988 and Bubul1988 are presented alongside Sentinelle, 1976, a painting “for” with an almost monolithic sculptural presence, and the dense and encrusted surface of objects of Ancestor Window1987. In Lapwing (made in Japan)2000 and Pendulum2012, there is a geometry that echoes that found in the sculptural work What else can you put in a Judd box2022.

David Waterworth, curator at the University of Greenwich, said: “We are delighted to be able to host Frank Bowling and Sculpture and present this unprecedented facet of his career. The exhibition will demonstrate the important place he occupies and the ongoing history of his contribution to abstraction.

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Frank Bowling and Sculpture
Frank Bowling and Sculpture

From abstraction to representation, from political expression to artistic freedom, from Britain to Guyana, Frank Bowling’s art is full of contrasts and productive paradoxes. This exhibition considers these dualities in terms of the relationship between painting and sculpture, image and object, which runs throughout Bowling’s larger body of work – opening up new possibilities for his appreciation.

Published to coincide with the opening of the exhibition is a new standalone monograph from Ridinghouse, the first publication to examine Bowling’s art and ideas in relation to sculpture. Richly illustrated, it features a long essay by curator Sam Cornish describing Bowling’s interactions with sculpture since the 1960s. Also included are a conversation between Allie Biswas and sculptor Thomas J. Price, and a poem dedicated to bowling by sculptor and author Barbara Chase-Riboud.

Frank Bowling and Sculpture is supported by funding from the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, the Henry Moore Foundation and the University of Greenwich.

The Stephen Lawrence Gallery

University of Greenwich, 10 Stockwell Street, London SE10 NBD

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