The colour purposeful: Nat Bowen’s art practice is inspired by Chromology - GulfToday

The colour purposeful: Nat Bowen’s art practice is inspired by Chromology


Nat Bowen is based in Dubai.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

British abstract artist Nat Bowen is known globally for her vibrant, multi-layered resin paintings. She uses the study of Chromology — the psychology behind colour — as the foundation of her art. She incorporates it into the work to communicate nonverbally through colour, allowing the viewer to have a physical and emotional response to the art based on their own perceptions and personal experiences. Pigmented epoxy resin is poured onto an acrylic base which is then manipulated using a paintbrush to build up abstract layers of colour.

The pigments in the resin adapt according to the light, and the colourful, glossy orbs which are created as a result, have a depth and a three-dimensional aspect, similar to those seen during meditation. Bowen relates her practice to wellbeing, meditation and mental health. “Colour, as a property of light, has the power to alter or transform one’s mental state,” she says. She sources pigments from around the world, including lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, meteorite dust from Morocco and earth from Iceland, among others, which are incorporated into the paintings.


ICCROM-Sharjah Award for Good Practices unveils shortlisted projects

Abol Atighetchi's unpublished works on show at Oblong Contemporary Dubai

She splashes a bit of colour on Gulf Today

How did you come by Chromology?

I’ve always had a fascination with colour; so when I first started to paint, I began to delve deeper into the psychology behind it and how the brain translates colour and how our body and mind respond to it.  I have read many books on colour theory and studied the works of artists such as Joseph Albers and how they use colour and incorporated this knowledge and understanding in my own practice.

Why does resin enchant you?

The high lustre of resin brings colours to life in a way that no other medium seems to do. The colours in the resin adapt according to the light, reflecting and absorbing the surroundings, so the work becomes a part of the space it inhabits.  The resin has such a high shine finish that the work is often mistaken for glass or ceramic; spectators often remark that the paintings look as though they are still wet.

How has your family and academic background helped you as an artist?

I come from a family of creatives with both of my parents being teachers in graphics and design technology; so I was introduced to design processes, materials and mediums from a young age.  Growing up, I’ve had no fear in developing my own sense of style and taste.

Nat Bowen beside her artwork

How did colours grow on you as a model, fashion designer and property developer?

A lot of my understanding of colour and texture comes from my university days at the London College of Fashion where I would experiment with cloth and drape different coloured fabrics on a mannequin. After graduating, I worked as a fashion designer and then as a model, where I learned a lot from working with different creative teams in the fashion world and kept abreast of the seasonal colour trends. From there I moved into the property industry, working for a leading real estate developer of luxury residences, where I got to see firsthand how colour was used in an interiors context and how art was positioned in these spaces.

A rhapsody in blue by British artist Nat Bowen

Colours can create a psychedelic than a meditative effect, which you strive for. Comment.

Colour has the power to alter one’s state of mind and can be used to create energy shifts from within. As a beautiful piece of music can change the emotional state of a person, so can colour.

How have clients reacted to your artwork? Give us two testimonials (names optional).

The colours in my work are high energy — they radiate positivity and optimism. When I did my ‘Back to Light’ exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London, people would walk into the space and smile instantly, remarking on how uplifted they felt.

Who are the people who inspire your art?

I have a huge appreciation for Bridget Riley’s optical art and how she plays with colour and geometric form to create movement in her paintings.  I’m also influenced by the Colour Field Movement that became prominent in the 1950s and 1960s with artists such as Mark Rothko and Ellsworth Kelly at the forefront, painting large expanses of colour in abstract forms.

What else is Muse?

Travel has played a big part and I find it fascinating how colours are used in different cultures.

I love to travel all over the world and one place I hold dear to my heart is the French Riviera, which I visit at least once a year.  I can see why many artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh chose to spend periods of time there painting. There’s something magical about the light and the different hues.  I often stay in Port Grimaud which was created in the 1960s by architect Francois Spoerry. All the houses are different colours looking out onto the water and the area has a retro charm about it. Another place that sticks in my mind is the house in Majorelle Garden in Marrakech. The property was painted in 1924 by French artist Jacques Majorelle in a brilliant ultramarine colour, inspired by local Moroccan tiles.  It was later restored by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and it is one of the most sublime colours I’ve ever seen, intensified by the Moroccan sunlight.


Related articles