John Bunker interviews painter Frank Bowling on the occasion of the exhibition Frank Bowling: The Map Paintings 1967-1971 at Hales Gallery, London, on view through November 23, 2013.
Bowing discusses his early figurative work and his transition to abstract painting. Asked about the orgin of the Map Paintings, he comments: "I was just laying the canvas on the floor and would then lay on the paint and start staining. I’d use colour to follow the way the light moved across the room as the day went along. At one point the liquid paint started to form a pool in the shape of a head. At first look it seemed like a caricature of General de Gaulle. At that time he was making a lot of claims on the Western Hemisphere – another ironic aside! But as the paint settled it looked less like de Gaulle and more like a map of South America. I also recalled that as a child at school we were taught how to draw the map of Guyana. Larry Rivers suggested I use an overhead projector to get an accurate rendition of the maps of South America and Guyana… I was working into a kind of field painting where the work formed its own shapes."