Frank Bowling, an artist known for his lush semi-abstract works that consider histories of colonialism in poetic ways, will now be represented by Hauser & Wirth, one of the biggest galleries in the world, with 10 galleries and a bookstore spread across three continents.
The new representation will see the 86-year-old artist part ways with his New York gallery, Alexander Gray Associates. Los Angeles’s Marc Selwyn Fine Arts gallery will continue to work with Bowling.
“Frank Bowling has redefined the course of abstract painting,” Iwan Wirth, the president of Hauser & Wirth said in a statement. “His astounding vision is expressed through a remarkable body of work which has continually broken new ground.”
Bowling’s work has seen widespread visibility in recent years, thanks to inclusions in major exhibitions such as “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983,” which first showed at Tate Modern in London in 2017 and is still traveling. He is perhaps most famous for his series “Map Paintings” (1976–71) in which the artist overlaid the outlines of continents onto color fields, turning Abstract Expressionism into a political gesture. Many of them appeared in a 2018 Haus der Kunst survey in Munich that was organized by the late curator Okwui Enwezor.
Born in British Guyana and now based between London and New York, Bowling has also been considered a formidable thinker. In a 1971 issue of ARTnews, he published the essay “It’s Not Enough to Say ‘Black Is Beautiful,’” in which he considered the double standards facing Black artists of his generation.
In a statement, Bowling said, “After decades of labor, I am humbled to find a home in Hauser & Wirth. Iwan and Manuela have welcomed me into their extended family of artists including, among them long-lost friends and people whose work I have long admired.”
The announcement of Bowling’s move to join Hauser & Wirth comes as the artist sues his former gallery, Hales, which has spaces in New York and London. Bowling alleged that Hales is withholding $18.5 million in paintings. Hales has countersued the artist, claiming that the artist’s sons are leading a “concerted campaign” to complicate his relationship with the gallery.