My Favourite Painting: Barb Jungr

The singer, songwriter and composer chooses Frank Bowling's haunting portrait of his son.

Barb Jungr on Richard Sheridan IVth by Frank Bowling

‘Dan Bowling’s — or, as titled, Richard Sheridan’s — face stares at us, a little boy looking out at the world. Unflinching and self-aware, his face contains the seed of the adult as clearly as an acorn does an oak.

‘This painting, compelling and bewitching, reveals that strangely adult awareness children often have, wise beyond their years.

‘And there’s a clarity in that gaze. A quiet certainty. Frank’s use of colour and shading draw us inside the soul of the subject. The sand and the orange, the earth, the texture on the surface of the canvas: everything, all of life and alive-ness and of love, is in this deeply personal vision of a son by his father.’

Barb Jungr is a singer, songwriter and composer. Her new album, Bob, Brel & Me, is released on September 6. Her UK tour includes the London Jazz Festival (November 15 and 16).

Barb Jungr

Barb Jungr. Credit: Steve Ullathorne

John McEwen on Richard Sheridan IVth

The artist Richard Sheridan Patrick Michael Aloysius Franklin Bowling was born in Bartica, British Guiana (Guyana) in 1934. His father, also called Richard, was a paymaster in the local police force and his mother Agatha was a milliner and dressmaker, whose success in business enabled her to build a three-storey house in the centre of New Amsterdam (Guyana), to which they moved in 1940.

Mr Bowling came to London in 1953. After first serving in the RAF, he nursed his literary ambition through a variety of jobs, including life modelling at the Royal College of Art. He was encouraged to take up art and, in 1959, gained a scholarship to the RCA. He married Paddy Kitchen, the Principal’s secretary.

Richard Sheridan (Dan) Bowling was born the year his father graduated, the silver-medal-winning runner-up to David Hockney. Dan’s life was the genesis of this memorial portrait: ‘As we crossed the road to go into the hospital, there was this noise of a new-born crying, or as I thought a kind of protest. I knew that that noise was my son. My continuing feeling of why I miss him is that he knew before he could articulate anything that he didn’t like it here and he just threw himself into it and died before he was 40.

‘I want my paintings to speak for me because I know that once the work is made, it’s out there and it has to live and die for itself if it’s going to die at all.’

Mr Bowling lives in London and New York. In 2005, he was elected a Royal Academician; in 2013, he married his friend of many decades, Rachel Scott. His major retrospective at Tate Britain ends on August 26.


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