Garth Bowden (1970) grew up in London where he studied Fine Art and Sculpture at Camberwell Art College and Chelsea School of Fine Art. He now lives between Paris and the South of France and exhibits throughout Europe and the Pacific. He has a multi-disciplinary practice between painting, sculpture and photography. Garth has always been an artist, like his elders before him, his great-great grand-father Belgian neo-impressionist painter Theo Van Rysselberghe and his great grand-father Nobel Prize author André Gide. From them, he inherited a curiosity and love for travel, as well as a spirit of enquiry into both the outside world and the realm of the mind.
Garth has long been interested in the confluence between art and pop culture, and the contrast between the rarefied production of art objects compared to the mass production of toys and consumer products. He uses familiar iconography in his work precisely because of its universality. Love or hate Disney, you cannot escape it: its symbols are ubiquitous and its lexicon known to everyone.
Drawing from the vitality and power of tribal art and the banal objects of pop culture, the artist seeks to compress these apparently opposing elements into works of meaning and humour. The profound loses depth without the banal. The banal gains meaning in relation to the sublime. By colliding elements from these disparate worlds, the artist invites us to question our perceived values and prejudices.
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 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.
I am drawn to challenging assumed hierarchies between “art” and “pop culture”. For instance, the “World of Pisney” 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.
"Eclectomania" explores how primitive art became a powerful influence among European artists who formed an avant-garde in the development of modern art and how colonisation took away ideas and artefacts, and in return filled the vacuum left behind with its own ideologies and consumeristic influences. Globalisation has resulted in universally known icons and brands, like Mickey Mouse.
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. This is what I explore in "TikiMiki".
Finally, “The Land of Milk and Honey” delves into the fever pitch intensity of cartoons and reflects on our failed attempts at Disneyesque ‘utopias’
B.A. Fine Art, Chelsea School of Art, London, UK. 1997. Foundation Course at Camberwell Art College.
2019 - LeStudio Gallery, "Fallen Icons" Paris, France
2018-19 - Galerie Sophie Leiser, “Eclectomania - Tribal Pop” Paris, France
2018 - LeStudio Gallery, “TikiMiki Paris” Paris, France.
2018 - Le Jardin en Ville, "Land of Milk and Honey" - Carcassonne, France.
2018 - LeStudio Gallery, “Memento Mori” Paris, France.
2017 - 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 & 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, French Polynesia.
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 & Cie Gallery, Art3f art fair with the French designer Francois Azambourg - Paris, France.
2015 - Stilwerk, 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.