The Painting Report: September 2019

There’s a lot going on in the world of painting right now. Personally, I’ve learned about several inspiring painters recently that have somehow flown under my radar for years. So I’m making an effort to make sure that I’m better informed. This month I’ll be highlighting two painters that I hope you will take the time to explore and get to know. 

It seems like a lot of the big news is coming out of London, specifically the Tate. Let's start in London with a look at two fantastic painters currently exhibiting. 


Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling, 2019. Photo: Mathilde Agius.

Frank Bowling, 2019. Photo: Mathilde Agius.

I have to admit that I didn’t know about Frank Bowling until his show this year at the Tate. I’m more than a little embarrassed by this fact and its the primary reason that I’m starting this monthly painting report. In a massive, long long long long overdue show that covers his entire career, we get a chance to see Frank Bowling paintings that are explosive with color and emotions. He was born in Guyana (1934), and studied at the Royal College of Art in London during the late 50s and early 60s.

The show is structured chronologically beginning with his early work which is steeped in figurative abstraction. In the mid 1960s Bowling moved to New York. His map paintings from this time are some of my favorite. They are large and bold with underpinning themes of displacement and diaspora. His work also includes a wide array of experimentations with materials such as acrylic foam, metallic pigments, chalk, beeswax and glitter. I connect with his rambunctious use of colors and large scale format. I would love the chance to experience and contemplate his work in person. Given all of the attention that he is receiving, hopefully there will be a North American show in the not so distant future. 

Here are several articles that explore the show and highlight the institutional neglect that Frank Bowling has experienced throughout his career. 


France-Lise McGurn

France-Lise McGurn, 2019. Photo: Matt Greenwood.

France-Lise McGurn, 2019. Photo: Matt Greenwood.

In her exhibition Sleepless at the Tate, France-Lise McGrun delivers a site-specific array of figurative images that explore the intimacy of city living and sexuality. You’ll find overlapping figures painted using sparse colorful outlines in blues and reds. This overlapping conveys the intimacies of city living. Large patches of saturated color punctuate her figures and help create a sense of restlessness energy. Images spill off of the canvas on to the gallery walls.

McGrun’s subjects often contain a nostalgia for her early more hedonistic years. Her interviews with Art Now and Studio International talks about the anchoring and responsibility that comes with motherhood, her remembrance of party life in the cities where she has lived, and how she uses figures to personify feelings.  

McGrun’s work has a lightness about it which pulls us into her world on the edge of awake and sleep. Have a look at images from her show and read her interviews with Art Now and Studio International.