Artist’s Statement

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    Richard Bolingbroke was born in Southsea, England in 1952, and grew up in the south of England. He took a pre-diploma art course at Winchester Art College in 1969 and then went on to study Geography at London University in 1970. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Geography in 1973, having all the while continued to paint in an unused laboratory on campus.

    He traveled to India in 1976, and lived there for five years on a life-defining spiritual journey. He returned to Europe in 1981 living briefly in Amsterdam, and then moved to the United States on Thanksgiving Day 1981. After a cold winter on the East coast he moved west, spending four years in Oregon, lived briefly in Phoenix, and moved to his current home in San Francisco, California, in 1986

    As an artist his work has embraced many phases and styles. At art school, sculpture and photography were his main areas of work, but later explorations led to a greater interest in painting, especially conceptual and philosophical questions about time, creativity and the nature of reality. He also discovered a lifelong obsession with color as primary force in painting.

    While traveling, he taught himself watercolor due to its ease of use on the road, painting landscapes as he worked his way across Asia to India. He began working in still-life when he arrived in San Francisco and it has remained his principle genre since then. Watercolor is still his primary medium however his recent purchase of a printing press has allowed him to continue his work with monotype printmaking.

    Recent investigations of pattern and color have resulted in complex watercolor images using Japanese kimonos and various personal objects from his studio. This work developed into the series Rituals and Meditations, which has continued his keen observation of nature and turned it inwards to look at the duality of phenomena, such as Life and Death.

      Currently a selection of work from the series of watercolors from “Rituals and Meditations” has been touring museums in the U.S.   


Photograph by Greg Day

Photoillustration Jok Church

“Creating Diary of Grief and Loss”



    2010    “Not So Still-Life” Sun Gallery, Hayward, California

    2009    “Love, Life and Death” California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, California

    2009    Anderson Art Center, Anderson, Indiana

    2008     “Family Portrait” LGBT Center Gallery, Curated by Visual Aid, San Francisco, California

    2008    Charles Allis/Villa Terrace Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    2008    South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings South Dakota

    2006     Visual Aid Gallery, San Francisco, California

    2006    Murray State University Gallery, Murray, Kentucky

    2006    Visual Arts Center, Panama City, Florida

    2006     Parkersburg Art Center, Parkersburg, W. Virginia

    2005    Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury, N.C.

    2005    Oliver Elliot and Sebastian, Carmel, California

    2005    Atrium Gallery, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, England

    2005    Mowen Solinski Gallery, Nevada City, California

    2004    Clark Contemporary, San Francisco, California

    2003    Transamerica Center, 505 Sansome St, San Francisco, California

    2002    “A 12 Year  Retrospective” The Atrium Gallery, San Francisco, California

    2000     Bechtel  Corporation World Headquarters, San Francisco, California

    1999     Prince Street Gallery, New York

    1998     Rivaga  Gallery, Washington D.C.

    1995     Gallery 30, Burlingame, California

    1994     RJS Galleries, Key West, Florida

    1993     Art in Public Spaces Program, Stanford University, California

    1993     Diva Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida

    1992     Mill Valley Art Commission, Mill Valley, California


    2011    “One Off” Arc Gallery, San Francisco, California. Curated by Michael Yochum

    2011    “Queer It Yourself” Somarts Gallery, San Francisco, California. Curated by QCC Board

    2011    “Hearts and Healing” LGBT Center, San Francisco. Curated by Pam Peniston.

    2008    Contemporary American Realism, M. A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, Oklahoma

    2008    Watercolor Now!, Springfield Museum, Springfield, Missouri.

    2008    Home Front, Marin Community Foundation, Novato, California. Curated by Visual Aid    

    2007    Watercolor USA, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield,MO, Juror Daniel Piersol

    2005    Proof Positive, Visual Aid Exhibition, LGBT Community Center,San Francisco

    2005    Iconography and Trans-formation, Space 743/Visual Aid, San Francisco, California

    2004    Watercolor USA, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield,MO,Juror Joseph Jacobs

    2003    Summer Show, Anne Bradford Gallery, Healdsburg, California

    2002    Visual Aid Group Show,  Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, California

    2002    Positive Too,  The LGBT Center, San Francisco, California

    2000    Things:Still Lifes and Objects, Digital Annex, San Francisco, Curator J. Davis

    1999    Water-Color,Bedford Gallery,Walnut Creek,CA,Jurors Mark Adams/Beth Van Housen

    1998    Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Tampa, FL, Honorable Mention Prize, Juror Thelma Golden

    1998    Nature 1 Post St, McKesson Headquarters, Curator J Davis, San Francisco, California

    1997    Michael Thompson Gallery, San Francisco , California

    1997    Coconut Grove Art Festival, Coconut Grove Florida, first prize watercolor.

    1996    Artworks “Men at Work”, San Francisco, California

    1996    Sun Gallery 35th Biennial, Hayward, California

    1992    7th International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration, Hunt Institute for Botanical

                 Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University,  Pittsburgh, PA.


    2006     American Artist Award, Watercolor USA, Springfield Art Museum, Missouri.

                 Juror Daniel Piersol, Curator, Mississippi Museum of Art

    1999     Coconut Grove Art Festival, Coconut Grove, Florida, Second Prize Watercolor

    1998     National AIDS Memorial Grove, San Francisco, Poster Commission

    1998     Gasparilla Festival, Tampa, Florida, juror Thelma Golden Whitney Museum, Honorable Mention

    1997     Coconut Grove Art Festival, Coconut Grove, Florida, First Prize Watercolor

    1990     San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus, Concert Poster


    Bay Times, San Francisco , March 27 2008 “Family Portrait, a chronicle and homage” Tom Kelly

    Salisbury  Post, November 10 2005, Bolingbroke Watercolors, interview

    Bay Times, San Francisco, July 14 2005, Iconography Review, Dana Van Iniquity

    Artweek, San Francisco, April 2004 “Hunters Point Open Studio”

    Santa Rosa Press Democrat,  April 27 2003 “Artistry at Hunters Point” Mark Aronoff

    Nevada City Times,  April 2003, Show Review

    Miami Herald February 18 2003,"Coconut Grove Art Festival" interview

    San Francisco Arts Monthly, October 2002,    

    San Francisco Frontiers Newsmagazine  October 2000  "San Francisco Open Studios"

    Watercolor Magazine "A Quiet Splendor"  James Metcalf.  Summer 2000

    San Francisco Chronicle . Jesse Hamlin, October 1, 2000  " Three artists open their studios"

    San Francisco Frontiers Newsmagazine October 1999 "San Francisco  Open Studios"

    The Sentinel, San Francisco  March 2 1989 "An Artists Profile" Michael Gunsaulus


    2001-2011 Artists Guild of San Francisco, Board Member

    1996-2000 Artspan Board Member (producers  of S.F. Open Studios), President 1997

    1989  Gay and Lesbian Artists Alliance, Founder  and Member


    Visual Aid Grantee  2001-11, San Francisco, California


     2000-2001 City College  of San Francisco, Intaglio, Life Drawing  Courses

    1995 City College of San Francisco, Monotype  course

    1970-1973 BSc Geography, London University

    1969-1970 Pre-Diploma Year Winchester College of Art, Winchester, England

  Manifesting Paradox:

A Journey From Representation To Abstraction

            As I look back at my work over the last 25 years, I see a commitment to a new way of looking at the world that is rooted in a need for clarity, understanding, and a simple delight in the joy of creation and discovery. At times I have felt like a pilgrim lost in a vast desert but, again and again, my inner compass has directed me to oases of inspiration. Without a map, I have learned trust and courage, and a love for my restless need to explore both my outer and inner worlds. The paradox is that in trying to make sense of this journey, it has become even more mysterious.

            For more than 20 years, watercolor and the still-life were my principle tools. In my early work I painted flowers in all their glory, enthralled with their obvious beauty. However during the AIDS crisis here in San Francisco, when I experienced death first hand, I saw that surface beauty was just one side of nature. My work began to seek a more honest and balanced understanding. In Rituals and Meditations I explored a ceremonial creative process based in my meditation practice which allowed me to create work with a new-found clarity. Using objects that had personal meaning for me, such as stones, thorns, flowers and, in the final pieces, skulls and bones, I came to see that everyday objects have a significance rich in symbolism, emotion, and narrative. They can represent both the personal and the universal in a way that is surprisingly complex and insightful, and reveal to us not only the seen, but also the unseen.

            The next phase of my work, Art is a Four Letter Word explored the interplay between words and images. These are the two main ways we define and record ideas and they allow us to communicate with, and comprehend, the world around us. This work attempts to understand both their innate tension and the bond that they create between intellect and sensation. In some of the work I used an artist’s mannequin as an alter-ego, a stand-in for myself. This allowed me the distance I needed to express deeply personal fears and preconceptions.

            I recently began to use the simple printmaking technique of monotype, which strips away the image and narrows my focus to what I see as the essence of art: line, form, and color. Monotype allows me a more spontaneous and immediate expression than painting, and this allows me to connect to the visceral power of color in ways I wanted to share. The earliest work in the Calla Lily Series took a simple line drawing repeated with variations like a musical melody throughout the 50 prints, taking it to extremes of lyrical color that verge on abstraction.

             Following this direction the next series, Gesture and Feeling, abandoned even the simplest elements of representation and drew on my calligraphic training to create spontaneous compositions of energized color and line. With the SpaceTime series, the emotional tenor softened. I used rollers rather than brushes to create extremely simple compositions allowing the color to stand alone as the main content of the work. My most recent work, Meditations on the Square, was inspired by traditional quilts, Islamic tile patterns and the music of J.S.Bach and Phillip Glass. Using repeated overlapping color, I created geometric compositional structures that, like a sonnet or sonata, allowed for infinite variation and was truly rooted in color.

            As I search for new ways to express my inner truth, I continue to create work that reflects the mystery that surrounds us. My studio is a laboratory for this creative urge, a place to delve unafraid into the unconscious and emerge with fresh visions of the paradox that is life. To contradict a common cliche, I have discovered that what you see is not what you get, and for that I am continually grateful.


                                                                                                June 2012



© Richard Bolingbroke 1989-2013       All Rights Reserved.     Site design by Richard Bolingbroke