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Frank Bowling arrives at the Tate for the first time

31 May, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary

Frank Bowling, Cover Girl, 1966, acrylic paint, oil paint, and silkscreened ink on canvas, 149.8 x 101.6cm, private collection

A 1966 painting by Frank Bowling, the first black Royal Academician, is being given its first public outing in the UK.

Cover Girl forms part of Tate Britain’s major retrospective of the British Guiana now Guyana-born artist, which opens today (Friday) at the Millbank gallery and runs until late August.

There are some 60 pieces, mainly his large paintings, and a wealth of archive material. Beginning in the 1960s, with figurative works, it traces the development of his practice up to the present day and includes the new 2018 Wafting, a canvas of more than 8ft which includes vertical strips of polka dot fabric brought back to London from Zambia by his grandson.

Now 85, the visionary artist continues to work daily from his London studio.

In Cover Girl he took inspiration from an Observer Magazine front cover featuring a model, Hiroko Matsumoto, complete with her geometric Pierre Cardin dress and Vidal Sassoon hair. This was combined with elements of a family photograph, with an image of his mother’s house, and a dark sky.

Other highlights include “Great Thames” paintings and the largest group of Bowling’s celebrated “map” acrylics ever shown together in the UK. These feature stencilled outlines of countries and continents with Latin America and Africa often forming a central focus.

Frank Bowling is at Tate Britain until August 26. 020 7887 8888, visit or follow @Tate #FrankBowling/


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