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Artist Frank Bowling made a knight: I don’t think I’ll ever be done with paint

The painter is known for his large-scale abstract canvases.

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Frank Bowling 2020 (Photo by Sacha Bowling/courtesy of the artist)

Frank Bowling 2020 (Photo by Sacha Bowling/courtesy of the artist)

Frank Bowling 2020 (Photo by Sacha Bowling/courtesy of the artist)

Artist Frank Bowling says he is “extremely proud” as he is made a knight at the age of 86.

The octogenarian is still an active painter, working in his studio almost every day.

Born in what was then British Guiana, he is known for his large-scale abstract canvases.

The painter, who is recognised “for services to art”, said: “I’ve set out on a quest to explore the possibilities of paint, and I find myself making something new every time.

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Frank Bowling, Watermelon Bight, 2020, acrylic on canvas (Courtesy the artist)

Frank Bowling, Watermelon Bight, 2020, acrylic on canvas (Courtesy the artist)

Frank Bowling, Watermelon Bight, 2020, acrylic on canvas (Courtesy the artist)

“I have an insatiable determination to experiment with colour, form and process, to create new and original artworks that push the boundaries of the medium, while being intellectually grounded in post-war abstraction.

“The things that paint can achieve are so vast and diverse that I don’t think I’ll ever be done with it.”

And he added: “Trained in the English art school tradition, my identity as a British artist has always been crucial to me and I have viewed London as my home since arriving in 1953 from what was then British Guiana.

“To be recognised for my contribution to British painting and art history with a knighthood makes me extremely proud.

“Friends and family have played a role in my studio since the 1960s – as a husband, father, grandfather and recently a great-grandfather, I am honoured to sit at the centre of a modern family to whom I feel much gratitude.”

Ben and Sacha Bowling, the artist’s sons and studio directors, said that “in many ways, recognition has come late in our father’s career.

“We are delighted he is getting this distinction now for his contribution to the canon of contemporary and modern art.

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Tate director Maria Balshaw said Bowling’s artworks ‘have changed the nature of painting through innovation and experimentation’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

Tate director Maria Balshaw said Bowling’s artworks ‘have changed the nature of painting through innovation and experimentation’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

PA

Tate director Maria Balshaw said Bowling’s artworks ‘have changed the nature of painting through innovation and experimentation’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

“He has shown dedication and dogged persistence in the face of obstacles throughout his life of painting, including having to deal with stereotypical associations made between his work and origins.

“It requires exceptional dedication to follow one’s own unique vision for decades, for much of the time with little reward. The whole family is overjoyed at this news. We couldn’t be prouder of all that our father has achieved.”

Tate director Maria Balshaw said Bowling’s artworks “have changed the nature of painting through innovation and experimentation”.

Last year, Tate Britain held a major retrospective of his work, subtitled The Possibilities Of Paint Are Never-Ending.

After doing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, Bowling won a scholarship to London’s Royal College of Art in 1959.

His early paintings embedded layers of autobiography in abstraction, incorporating silkscreen images of his home and family members in Guyana.

In 2005, he became the first black artist to be elected a Royal Academician.

Online Editors