Frank Bowling, OBE (born 29 February 1936), is a Guyana-born British artist who is widely considered to be one of the most distinguished artists to emerge from post-war British art schools. His paintings relate to Abstract expressionism, Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction.
Bowling was born in Bartica, Guyana, the son of a police district paymaster and his mother was a seamstress. In 1950, at the age of 15, he moved to England, where he lived with an uncle and completed his education.
After serving National Service in the Royal Air Force, Bowling went on to study art, firstly at the Chelsea School of Art, then in 1959 he won a scholarship to London’s Royal College of Art, where he was contemporary to David Hockney, Derek Boshier, Allen Jones, R. B. Kitaj and Peter Phillips. At graduation in 1962, Hockney was awarded the gold medal while Bowling was given the silver.
His first one-person exhibition, entitled “Image in Revolt,” was held in London in 1962 at the Grabowski Galleries and other exhibitions followed.
Bowling became frustrated at being pigeonholed as a Caribbean artist; as he said in a Guardian interview with Laura Barnett: “It seemed that everyone was expecting me to paint some kind of protest art out of postcolonial discussion. For a while I fell for it.”
A move to New York in the mid-1960s exposed Bowling to his American contemporaries and soon won him a place in the 1971 Whitney Biennial. He found a freedom in abstract art, alongside Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman. Between 1969 and 1972 Bowling was a contributing editor of Arts Magazine.
Bowling now spends part of each year between London and New York, where he maintains studios.