pinkish orange overall mottled wash; some blotchy vertical green and purple irregular pigment areas particularly at right edge; light stenciled areas in purple and white in the form of continents--two forms of Africa at right center and at left edge, Australia left of center, South America at center

%C2%A9 2019 Artists Rights Society %28ARS%29%2C New York %2F DACS%2C London

False Start, 1970

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In False Start, Frank Bowling maps an expansive yet intimate geography that charts his path from Bartica, Guyana, to London and New York. Rejecting the graphic formalism of pure abstraction, his Map Paintings (1967–71) contain references to postcolonialism (the social and political power relationships that sustained colonialism), his Afro-Caribbean roots, and the broader African diaspora. The composition of False Start features prominent outlines of the continents of the Southern Hemisphere—Africa, Australia, and South America—rendered in tones of white and pink. Through its omission of Europe, the image challenges Eurocentric historical narratives while drawing attention to the expansive footprint of colonialism and imperialism.

Bowling’s work serves as a new cornerstone of Mia’s contemporary abstract painting, shifting the art historical narrative away from well-known white, male artists such as Cy Twombly, Philip Guston, Frank Stella, and Gene Davis, to Bowling and his group of African-American cohorts in the 1960s and ’70s, including Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, Al Loving, William T. Williams, and Jack Whitten. The contributions of Black artists to the inventions of abstract painting have been historically overlooked, and the inclusion of a masterpiece such as False Start will be an important corrective to this in Mia’s collection.

pinkish orange overall mottled wash; some blotchy vertical green and purple irregular pigment areas particularly at right edge; light stenciled areas in purple and white in the form of continents--two forms of Africa at right center and at left edge, Australia left of center, South America at center

© 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London

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