Paul Bowen

 Paul Bowen sculpts abstract compositions from

scavenged quotidian objects. His eye for form exceeds

our ordinary familiarity with his materials—discarded

barnwood, embroidery hoops, or cable spools. He

at times treats his material accumulations with paint,

inlay, the application of tar, or a driven nail. Bowen

will on occasion purchase materials for his work, such

as old redwood boards from beer vats that he used

for a commissioned sculpture at the Cape Museum

of Fine Arts. The moniker of “found object artist”

seems too confining for Bowen and he doesn’t feel

that it describes him accurately. At the same time, he

identifies closely with the history of objects and seeks

to use them as symbols of their original purpose or

their cultural origin, though they are unmistakably new

and original objects that ask the viewer to question

the materials themselves as they contemplate the new

form.

Bowen often crafts his texture-driven work on a large

scale, though not exclusively. He started as a painter

at Newport College of Art in South Wales using tar

and gesso for their textural, visceral affects in their

application on sheets and tarps. Found objects played

 a role even in his earliest artistic pursuits. Upon

sourcing his materials, be they harvested from sea,

river, or junk pile, he likes to live with them and to

“build a relationship” with them in order to explore and

extrapolate their tactility. “It’s like a dance,” he says.

Bowen was born in 1951 in a small seaside town

in Wales. Having grown up shortly after the Second

World War in a family that used coal heat and had

no refrigeration or telephone, he acquired a ‘waste

not, want not’ approach to objects. His father was an

architect who very much enjoyed driving around the

Welsh countryside with his wife and children once

his stint of diffusing bombs during the war was over.

Bowen’s sensibility reflects his father’s interest in

construction and his love of exploring abandoned

mines and quarries, battle sites, old churches, and

farmhouses.

Bowen attended Chester School of Art in Chester,

England in 1968 and he studied with Joseph Bueys

at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He also attended the

MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art

in Baltimore. In 1977 Bowen was a fellow at the Fine

Art Works Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts

where he settled. He and his wife, the writer Pamela

Mandell, moved to Williamsville, Vermont in 2005 after

exploring there when he was the Artist in Residence

at Dartmouth College. Bowen’s work is included in

many public and private collections including at the

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Fogg

Art Museum at Harvard University, Museum of Fine Arts,

Boston and others. He has taught at Mount Holyoke,

RISD, and others. Bowen currently lives and works in

Williamsville, VT.