False Start, 1970

Basel 2018
Alexander Gray Associates
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas
534.0 x 223.0 (厘米)
210.2 x 87.8 (吋)
Frank Bowling’s False Start (1970) is a monumental painting from the artist’s series known as the Map Paintings (1967–1971). The work is composed of stained whites, peaches, and pinks under which Bowling stenciled the outlines of continental forms of the Southern Hemisphere – Africa, Australia, and South America. In obscuring Europe and North America, the British-Guyanese artist counters a Western-dominated art historical narrative, while drawing attention to the footprints of colonialism and imperialism. During Bowling’s early experiments in pouring and spreading thinned acrylic, the shadows cast though his studio window inspired him to create fluid abstract shapes on the canvas. He has said, ‘I’d use color to follow the way the light moved across the room as the day went along.’ Noticing a particular shadow assumed the rough shape of South America, he had discovered a motif that served his formal purposes and personal narrative. Bowling’s pioneering Map Paintings serve as a pivotal moment on his path towards ‘pure abstraction.’ In these works the artist displays his past usage of recognizable images with graphic references to his Afro-Caribbean roots and the post-colonial present.