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PAINTERS CAST GAZE SKYWARD

December 8, 2001
By Cate McQuaid

Excerpted from an article, "Painters Cast Gaze Skyward" published in The Boston Globe

Out on a limb
Paul Bowen looks not to the sky but to the sea for his material - driftwood. Bowen, who was born in Wales and lives in Provincetown, crafts abstract sculpture from found wood. As with Lambert's paintings, there's the sense of a fractured landscape in this artist's sculptures, many of which start with a shelf that can be read as a horizon line. And like Lambert, Bowen sticks with a particular lexicon of elements: Circles, wedges, and a brawny L-shape that recalls the silhouette of a fishing boat.

One untitled piece features white-painted disks with slots gouged out of them. They flip up and over piles of wedges, like the moon rising and setting, occasionally biting into a block of wood. Piling chunks of wood is new for Bowen; his sculptures used to have a simpler, more elegant composition. Yet the piles don't quite come across as clutter; there's balance, mixed with the occasional sense that everything is about to fall apart, which gives these works a pleasing tension. The best piece in the show, which also includes black-and-white drawings, is nonetheless the most spare: Five of the L-shapes and one straight plank project from the wall. From the side, they might be boats moored in a harbor. From any other vantage point, they're abstract and kicky; they flirt with the viewer and give the wall new life.


SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE TENSIONS OF INTIMACY

August 30, 2002
By Cate McQuaid
Excerpted from an article published in The Boston Globe

PROVINCETOWN - Paul Bowen, a sculptor from Wales, has lived in Provincetown for 25 years, and he makes the detritus of the sea his material. Bowen combs the beach early every morning, bringing home driftwood and crafting it into sculptures, which are also on view at the DNA Gallery. There's something about the rough, splintered quality of wood coughed up by the ocean that can't be tamed. And Bowen doesn't try to. His forms, sometimes painted or covered with tar, celebrate and explore the medium. Bowen aims for the balance and juncture that these planks once found in a boat's hull. "Wedges Stack" features triangular pieces of wood piled on a plank, which balances on a chunk of wood bolted to the wall. The piece appears to rock slightly; it's a precarious but precise construction. "The Blue One" joins giant wooden disks into the skeleton of a sphere. He paints part of it blue but doesn't disguise the scars and rusty staples in each fragment. "The Blue One" has the air of an old lion, battered but still kingly.