Magazine article Art Monthly

Denis Bowen 1921-2006

Magazine article Art Monthly

Denis Bowen 1921-2006

Article excerpt

Denis Bowen, who died on March 22, was apt to explain with inimitable solemnity: 'We were Bohemians'. Quintessentially a figure of the 50s when Bohemianism was fashionable, he was a painter, occasional critic and skilful opportunist who operated professionally and personally at the limits of the possible. Leaving the Royal College of Art in 1949 when abstract painting was new and a subject of passionate controversy, Bowen took it up as the cause to which he remained committed throughout his life. As inspirations for his work he claimed contemporary French art, interplanetary travel, Zen Buddhism, Jungian analysis and, most potently, atomic power. He became a vigorous proponent of fluorescent 'psychedelic' painting (to be viewed in pitch darkness accompanied by crashingly loud music) and later adopted metallic pigments with equal enthusiasm. Teaching in numerous art schools, including a two-year stint in Canada, provided a living while he painted and organised artists' groups, which he considered essential for professional survival. …

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