Garth Bowden is a painter / sculptor based between Paris and the south of France. He has recently exhibited in the UK, Tahiti, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Bowden has a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea School of Art, London.
The simplified forms and language of cartoons are a vibrant and violent lexicon that exists in parallel to our own daily lives. I hijack this language and allow images to coalesce until they resonate and reflect a narrative or abstract coherence.
The impulse to make work allows me to feed on, rather than be consumed by my concern for wider global issues. The relative futility of individual action to effect change on a broader level can create or a sort of paralysis. Art at least can act as a catalyst for conversation: A personal dialogue exploring my interests, and a wider one with the public.
After studying sculpture, I worked briefly as a free-lance toy designer. I continue to be interested in the confluence between art and popular culture, and the contrast between the rarefied production of art objects compared to the mass production of toys and consumer products. I often use familiar iconography in my work precisely because of its universality. The effect of globalism is a worldwide recognition of pervasive brands, whose symbols are ubiquitous and lexicon known to everyone.
In seeking a broader context I also draw from the vitality and power of tribal art, often merging notions of the sacred with the banal objects of pop culture. I like to compress these apparently opposing elements into works of meaning and humour; and by colliding these disparate worlds, I question my perceived values and prejudices.
I am drawn to challenging assumed hierarchies between “art” and “pop culture”. Previous work in my “Pisney” series blurs these dividing lines by merging Disney figures with Picasso paintings. Cartoon imagery consumes everything within its plastic visual language, as did Picasso - reinventing the world in his vision. I love this symbiosis. Language both exploding into new forms, and imploding into a reduced lexicon and shorthand.
We are easily funnelled into limiting opinions and restrictive identities through the diverse influences of media, peer groups, cultural heritage and family. Addressing subjects through the creative process of making work helps me remain open to complexity and apparent contradiction. We are inclined to shelter in beliefs, in collective and individual identities. I like to unpick these often unexamined urges to identify with something greater, and question the notion that we have an intrinsic cultural identity.
My current work “Land of Milk and Honey” explores the fever pitch intensity of cartoons and reflects on our failed attempts at Disneyesque ‘utopias’.
Education B.A. Fine Art, Chelsea School of Art, London, UK. 1997
2018 - Galerie Sophie Leiser, “Eclectomania - Tribal Pop” Paris, France
2018 - LeStudio Gallery, “TikiMiki Paris” Paris, France.
2018 - LeStudio Gallery, “Memento Mori” Paris, France.
2016 - LeStudio Gallery, “Soft Power” Paris, France.
2016 - LeStudio Gallery, “The Silent Crowd” Paris, France.
2016 - The Gallery, “Painting with Light” CraftCentral, Clerkenwell, London, UK.
2015 - Orama and Cie Pop up Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland.
2015 – Craft Central Gallery, “Epiphany and Apophenia" London, UK.
2014 – Council of Europe, “Epiphany and Apophenia” - Exhibition sponsored by the Council of Europe Arts Club - Strasbourg, France.
2014 – Maison de la Culture, “Human Nature” – Tahiti.
2013 – Gallery Espace d’Art, “Drawing Loop” – Aude, France.
2012 – Gallery “L’Ancienne Forge “Patternicity” – Hérault, France.
2010 – Le Jardin en Ville, “Death, Sleep and Ecstasy” – Carcassonne, France.
2018 - Galerie Winkler, “TikiMiki” group show with Andreas Dettloff and KNKY, Papeete, Tahiti.
2017 - LeStudio Gallery, “Plastic Primitive” - Collaboration with LA based artist James Gilbert - Paris, France.
2015 - Orama and Cie Gallery, Art3f art fair with the French designer Francois Azambourg - Paris, France.
2015 - Orama and Cie Gallery, exhibition with the French designer Francois Azambourg - Berlin, Germany.
2011 – The Cornerhouse, “Unrealised Potential” Manchester, UK.
2009 – Bearspace gallery, “The Kiss of a Lifetime” London and Vane Gallery, Newcastle, UK.
2008 – At6 Gallery, “Binary and Decimal Paintings” Carcassonne, France.
2008 - Les Grands Chemins arts festival, Minervois, France.
2006 – Artistes à Suivre arts festival “Inventing Language” Aude, France.
2000 – Hoxton Square School (artist led exhibition) “Packed Lunch”, London, UK.
1999 – The Dispensary, “Homage to the Hamster” London, UK.
1998 - Sothebys, “Animals in Art” London, UK.
1998 - Harris Museum and Art Gallery, “Animals in Art” Preston, UK.
1997-1998 – Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, “Animals in Art” Brighton, UK.
“TiKiMiKi - Tahiti Street Paintings” 76 pages - Artistic interventions in Tahiti. A photographic exploration of the alliance between Tahitian primary culture and western popular culture.
“Paris Street Paintings” 54 pages - Artistic interventions on the streets of Paris. A playful visual journey exploring the convergence of contrasting influences from popular and fine art.
“Plastic Primitive” 40 pages - A Limited Edition Colouring Book - collaboration with artist James Gilbert.