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Exhibitions > Current Exhibitions

Frank Bowling, Mappa Mundi

24 March – 8 July 2018 (External)

“Book Now Main Galleries, West Wing   Frank Bowling, Middle Passage, 1970, Acrylic on canvas, 321 x 281 cm, Courtesy the Artist, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
IMMA presents Mappa Mundi , a comprehensive overview of the work of seminal British artist Frank Bowling (b. British Guiana, 1934).
Over a long and varied career, the evolution of Bowling’s work can be seen as a reflection of a major evolution in painting throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Coming out of the fertile grounds of the Royal College of Art in the mid 1960s Bowling, along with contemporaries like David Hockney and Ron Kitaj, exhibited widely in London and the UK, garnering acclaim for ambitious early works such as The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots , and Big Bird . Though previously not as widely celebrated as some of those friends and contemporaries, Bowling is now considered an essential figure in the discourse around art, identity and post-colonialism.

Named for one of Bowling’s celebrated ‘map’ paintings, Mappa Mundi highlights exceptional works from throughout Bowling’s career from the 1960s onwards. Through his ‘map’ paintings Bowling addresses issues of history and migration, both his own as a Commonwealth immigrant to the UK and latterly the United States, and broader mass movements of people, from colonial slaves through the ‘Middle Passage’ from Africa to South America, to socio-economic motivated migration. Bowling’s work on geographic and human movement has special relevance in a time where discussion of national borders and immigration has never been more urgent.
The decisive moment of Bowling’s artistic development was his move to New York in 1966. Bowling’s painterly experimentation had led him to consider how abstract painting could be invested with social, cultural, and personal meaning without losing the essential and formal principles of painting. This lead him to move away from relatively straightforward figurative representation into more abstract work concerned with questions of form and colour. In the post-war period New York had produced abstract painting of a certain scale and ambition, and this context, along with the size of Bowling’s New York studio, allowed him to work on the larger, often monumental scale works on view at IMMA.
Over the last 50 years Bowling has exhibited, written, taught and curated widely in the United States and the UK. A recipient of multiple Guggenheim Fellowships and other awards, he also received consistently favourable reviews for, among others, his solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, New York (1971) and the Serpentine Gallery, London (1986).
This exhibition at IMMA showcases Bowling’s work from throughout his career, covering the major developments within his practice. Also included is selected material from the Frank Bowling archive, and several films featuring footage and interviews with the artist, including a specially created documentary featuring Frank Bowling in conversation about Ireland and Dublin and their influence on his work with Rachael Thomas, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.
Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi rightly identifies Bowling as a major figure in painting of the last 50 years. Alongside such milestones as being the first black artist elected to the Royal Academy (2005), the first black British artist to have work acquired by the Tate ( Spreadout Ron Kitaj , 194-86, acquired 1987), and being appointed an Officer of the British Empire (2008), Bowling continues to produce ambitious and complex work today.
  The exhibition is organised by (External) Haus der Kunst , Munich in association with IMMA and (External) Sharjah Art Foundation .

About the Artist
Frank Bowling (b. British Guiana, 1934), lives and works in London and New York. Upon graduating from the Royal College of Art, London, 1962 he was awarded the silver medal for painting. Bowling has exhibited widely and consistently over the last 60 years. Selected solo shows include Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1971); Serpentine Gallery, London (1986); a UK touring retrospective (2003); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2011); Spritmuseum, Stockholm (2014-15); Dallas Museum of Art (2015). Selected awards included multiple Guggenheim Fellowships and Pollock-Krasner awards. Bowling is a Royal Academician and an Officer of the British Empire. He is represented by Hales Gallery, London and New York.



“Book Now Wednesday - Sunday: €8/5 (Concession)
Tuesday: Free

Always free for full-time students, visitors aged under 18 and IMMA Members (Membership starts at €30. Unlimited admissions free for member + guest)  (External) Book in advance online

Special Offers: Visit exhibitions by two of the greatest painters of the 20th-century- Frank Bowling and Lucian Freud- at IMMA this summer.

On Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays you can avail of a special 2for1 offer to see both the Frank Bowling and Lucian Freud exhibitions on the same day. Purchase a ticket for either Frank Bowling, Mappa Mundi or Lucian Freud in The Ethics of Scrutiny curated by Daphne Wright and you will receive a complimentary ticket to visit the other exhibition on the same day.

On Saturdays, Sundays and on the June Bank Holiday Monday you can avail of a special bundle price of €10 to see both exhibitions on the same day (usually €8 each).

How to avail of these offers: When booking online just select your preferred date and time for both exhibitions (please note the Lucian Freud exhibition has timed entry whereas Frank Bowling is an all day ticket) and the relevant discount will be automatically applied on checkout .

Associated Events

Opening Talk
Saturday 24 March 2018 / 1.45pm / Lecture Room, IMMA
Anna Schneider, Exhibitions, Haus der Kunst, Munich introduces the work of Guyanese-born British painter Frank Bowling, in the context of a major touring retrospective Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi that opens at IMMA. This exhibition presents one of the most comprehensive - yet rarely exhibited selection of large-scale paintings by this seminal artist, and is Bowling’s first major exhibition to be presented in Ireland. (External) Listen Back   Exhibition Opening Party | Frank Bowling, Mappa Mundi
Saturday 24 March 2018 / 2pm / IMMA
The official exhibition opening party with a drinks reception, music and opening speeches by renowned international artist – Isaac Julian and music from (External) Doc Bowling and his Blues Professors will take place in the Baroque Chapel at IMMA. This Opening Party is proudly sponsored by O'Hara's Irish Craft Beers - our Official 2018 Exhibitions Opening Partner.
Curators Lunchtime Talk Series
Wed 4 April, 1.15pm. Meeting Point, Main Reception
IMMA curator Ben Stafford presents an insightful gallery walk through of the exhibition .  Drop-in, No booking required. Exhibition fee applies .
Artist Response: All That Could Be Lost
Pauline Cummins / Frank Bowling, Mappa Mundi
Tues 15 May, 4pm – 5pm, West Wing Galleries
Artist Pauline Cummins presents a response to a selection of works in the exhibition Frank Bowling, Mappa Mundi. Drawing on her own artistic beginnings as a painter and continuous fascination with the painting medium, Cummin’s explores the powerful effects of Bowling’s paintings, that transcends the political boundaries of the contemporary art world. This talk is programmed in partnership with this year’s (External) Bealtaine Festival - Ireland’s national celebration of the arts and creativity. Book Now

Exhibition Resources

Download the Exhibition Guide (.pdf) (External) Watch Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA, introduce Mappa Mundi and interview Frank Bowling from the artists' personal studio in London.
Read an article in on the (External) Royal Academy website about the painting Wintergreens on show in this exhibition.  (External) Homecoming: Frank Bowling and Lucian Freud read the IMMA blog by Dr Nathan O’Donnell on the relationship between Frank Bowling and Lucian Freud. June 2018.

Edition and Catalogue

An exclusive IMMA limited edition Frank Bowling print (External) IMMA VISIT, 2017 is available to purchase online or in store through the IMMA Shop at the special exhibition price of €200. Members enjoy a 20% discount.
Mappa Mundi is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a forward by Okwui Enwezor (Director, Haus der Kunst) and Sarah Glennie (Director NCAD, previously Director, IMMA), and texts by Okwui Enwezor, Kobena Mercer, Zoe Whitley, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Frank Bowling, Rose Jones and Anna Schneider. Available from the IMMA Shop for €49.85

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