Drop, Roll, Slide, Drip... Frank Bowling's Poured Paintings 1973–8
Tate Modern, London
This exhibition looks at a series of poured paintings that British Guyana-born abstract artist Bowling began in New York in the early 1970s.
Frank Bowling (born 1936) encountered the work of American abstract painters when he moved to New York in 1966. He became increasingly interested in the effects created by paint, and in 1973 he began to pour paint directly onto canvas, angled so that the wet acrylic paint would slowly flow to the bottom.
In his New York and London studios Bowling built a tilting platform that allowed him to pour the paints from heights of up to two metres. The paint spilled down as if on a ski jump, creating an energetic and innovative action painting style. The richly layered shifts of colour could start as a straight line at the top of the canvas and end in a swirl at the bottom, meeting and meshing with other colours in the middle. A dense configuration of built-up paint settled at the bottom edge.
Bowling exhibitied the first group of these ‘poured painting’ in New York in the autumn of 1973. Over the last thirty years Bowling has developed his painting technique, adding other materials and thick layers of paint to the canvas. Colour and the material structure of the paint remain his main concerns.