Frank Bowling’s Poured Paintings at Tate Britain, London

Drop, Roll, Slide, Drip…This unusual title gives the viewer a clue as to the content of Bowling’s paintings with his now familiar palette of hot pinks and oranges.  He was influenced by his time in New York in the sixties where he encountered Abstract Expressionist paintings and went on to make these poured paintings during the 1970s.

Bowling set out to fill the centre of the canvas with poured paint at a time when there was an interest in process painting – painting about the paint itself.  The works on display show what paint does as it runs, mixes and pools. The artist’s control is limited; Bowling poured different colours down a tilted canvas.  The paint produced interesting, but fairly predictable effects.

I wonder about later drip paintings (for example, Ian Davenport). The puddles of powdery paint on Bowling’s canvases also remind me of the explosive effects in John Hoyland’s paintings.  I think painting that uses the properties of paint has been done in a more interesting way recently through the work of Alexis Harding.