Frank Bowling

b. 1934, Bartica, Guyana. Lives and works in London.


Frank Bowling
Frank Bowling, Irma Kurtz Visits Broadway, 1975. Photo: Charlie Littlewood


Frank Bowling has been celebrated as one of the most important British painters of his generation. He was born in Guyana in 1934 and moved to London when he was 19 years old. By the early 1960s, Bowling was recognised in London’s art scene for his style which combined personal and political imagery.

After moving to New York in 1966, he moved away from figurative painting, becoming increasingly interested in exploring colour and geometry in his paintings. He found New York to be a place of fresh energy and ideas in his search of new ways to create works, and his paintings became larger in scale and more and more abstract. In the late 1960s, Bowling began using maps as a motif in his works, working with stencilled shapes of countries and continents. These large-scale works explore the trans-Atlantic cultural hybridity and displacement, with the repeated appearance of his birth country Guyana enhancing the autobiographical aspect of his work.

Around 1973, Bowling began his experiments with pouring paint directly onto canvasses. He built mechanical tilting platforms that allowed for him to pour paint from heights of up to two metres, creating textured compositions of bright colours. Although the methods are predetermined, what happens when he creates a painting is not, resulting in thrillingly unpredictable and spontaneous paintings.

His recent work encompasses collage, poured paint, stencilling, staining, and stitching canvases, bringing together techniques honed over a lifetime of painting.

Bowling became a Royal Academician in 2005 and was awarded the OBE for services to Art in 2008 and a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2020.