Garth Bowden

The Silent Crowd

DYSTOPIA IN TOYLAND: Notes on The Silent Crowd

Garth Bowden’s new paintings plunge us dizzily into the ethical dilemmas that surround us all today. While on the surface referencing a mash-up of artistic sources – neo-Pop, the messy Abstract Expressionism of de Kooning and Pollock, even the visceral impact of early Francis Bacon – these large canvases immediately draw the eye in with their bright, hectic colour-patterns and apparently playful, half-comical imagery. However, this bricolage of cartoon fantasia belies a darker subtext, its characters compressed claustrophobically against each other so that they merge and mutate into distorted chimera. What’s more, red spatterings criss-cross the paintings and undercut the frivolity of the faces crowding in on us, as though the horror-mannequin Chucky has gone on a knife-spree through the cast of Toy Story.
These bold and bizarre works effectively capture the paradoxes of a culture adrift between disneyfied banality and dehumanisation. If “artists are the antennae of their race” (as Ezra Pound suggested) they could be said to be emotionally timely and politically resonant.
They build on themes and strategies that Bowden has obsessively returned to throughout his career and represent a new resolve to explore broader events through the lens of his ambitious personal vision.

Oliver Dixon 2015

detail, The Garden of Earthly Delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights, acrylic on canvas 140 x 100 cm

Little Monsters, painted steel 2 m height

Gallery view

Supplies Are Limited, acrylic on plywood 125 x 85 cm

Before the Flood, acrylic on canvas 140 x 100 cm

The Silent Crowd, acrylic on canvas 130 x 100 cm

The Checkpoint, acrylic on canvas 100 x 75 cm

The Jungle I, ink on paper 50 x 70 cm

The Jungle II, ink on paper 50 x 70 cm

The Jungle III, ink on paper 50 x 70 cm

The Jungle IV, ink on paper 50 x 70 cm

The Ambassadors, ink on paper 53 x 53 cm

detail – The Silent Crowd, acrylic on canvas 130 x 100 cm

The Concert, acrylic on canvas 120 x 80 cm

Public Gathering, acrylic on canvas 130 x 100 cm

The Groupies, acrylic on canvas 120 x 80 cm

The After Party, acrylic on canvas 120 x 80 cm

Nature Morte, acrylic on canvas 120 x 80 cm

The Commemoration, acrylic on canvas 120 x 80 cm

The Rave, acrylic on canvas 130 x100 cm

Sharing our culture with the animal kingdom, pen on paper

The Lottery Winners, acrylic on canvas 100 x 130 cm

Study II, acrylic on card 120 x 80 cm

Study I, acrylic on card 120 x 80 cm