“Art really served as a spiritual awakening for me. It’s something bigger than me … it’s beyond me, it’s a miracle,” Dowling said.
Next week in Long Island’s lush and upscale Southampton, Dix Hills resident John Dowling will participate in the second annual Hamptons Fine Art Fair, a high-end art event created for avid collectors and investors, July 14-17 – with its highly sought-after masterpieces of illusionistic, one-of-a-kind abstract artwork that are set to fetch anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece from discerning collectors.
But while his newfound success and adulation as an artist is wonderfully satisfying, it also represents the culmination of a difficult journey – one that nearly cost Dowling his life – that saw him reinvent and evolve repeatedly along the way.
Rick Friedman – founder and executive director of the Hamptons Fine Art Fair – is known for being incredibly picky about who he gives his endorsements to; however, to illustrate the high regard in which Dowling is held in art circles, Friedman has expressed that he is particularly fond of Dowling’s work, referring to him as the “master” of his unique style.
“Mother Nature” by John Dowling. $189,000 42”x58.6” abstract photo montage on metal canvas with Spanish gold antique wood frame.
“He is a master colorist whose abstractions are at once inviting, alluring and playful while being energetic and invigorating,” he said. “These powerful figures are certainly holding up the wall.”
Dowling, a former fitness model turned photographer, first embarked on her creative path in the 1980s when she began experimenting with multiple exposure photography and hand-colored black and white prints. He soon became a highly sought-after photographer, but it wasn’t until a cruel twist of fate—when he was unfortunately diagnosed with an incurable genetic mutation—that he was set on the path to what would eventually become a famous—and very famous—consumer artist in his own right. you are
Dowling noted that his uphill battle to regain his health and well-being was, in a roundabout way, one of the main factors contributing to his current artistic success.
Mad Hitchhiker by John Dowling. $469,000 42”x58.6” abstract photo montage on metal canvas framed in Spanish antique golden wood. Mounted and double frosted with white/gold.
“I was forced to reinvent myself many times because of my limitations,” he said. “In 2018, I had three surgeries at St. Francis Hospital…it took me years to recover and I was in so much pain that I really couldn’t do much of anything at the time. But while I was in rehab and on very strong painkillers, I found refuge in painting. It was art therapy for me and helped me escape the pain, limitations and loneliness of daily marathons to grow new arteries where mine were failing due to this genetic mutation.
Dowling spent her time recovering from her many medical procedures by scanning and painting her photographs as a form of art therapy; later, when friends who visited him remarked how surprised they were by his work, Dowling realized he had hit upon something very tangible and decided to continue pursuing this new and satisfying endeavor.
Dowling is recognized as an incredibly talented and in-demand entertainer, attracting the attention of numerous celebrities over the years, including Muhammad Ali, Tina Louise, Patty Duke, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, Hulk Hogan and many more.
Abstract artist John Dowling.
Demand for Dowling’s work has grown exponentially; today, editions of his work typically fetch around $10,000, and the masters—along with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and distribution rights—are worth upwards of $150,000 each, if not more.
Dowling noted that the appeal of his artwork is due to the layers contained within; he describes his style as containing “secrets within mysteries within secrets”, meaning that the meaning of each piece can change depending on the eye of the beholder; each viewer has different perceptions of what they observe. This is a unique technique that causes viewers to have false affirmations about what they see, as well as challenges the conscious mind to see what actually exists. The term for this psychological effect is scotomization, and these shapes, patterns, and illusions often lead to the viewer working to find objects in their pieces and to instances where the individual has a “eureka moment” or epiphany.
Over time, Dowling opened up his artistic perspective by collaborating with a number of other artists from around the world – from places as diverse as Dubai to Bulgaria – and combining their work with his own, creating completely unique and diverse works of art that truly an appeal to the viewer’s soul.
He has also become an outspoken advocate for the value of investing in art, especially when it comes to works produced by up-and-coming artists.
No Parking by John Dowling. $249,000 42”x58.6” abstract photo montage on metal canvas with black contemporary wood frame.
“It’s important to invest and acquire artists who are just coming onto the radar of elite galleries and collectors because it’s still a great deal at the time,” he said. “Just look at Mike ‘Beeple’ Winkelman, his works first sold for hundreds of dollars, but recently he sold two pieces for tens of millions. Every collector of his original work made thousands of reproductions in return. The same possibility can exist with my masterpieces today.”
But Dowling’s path to becoming a prominent – and highly sought after – artist has led him to be a featured artist at this year’s Hamptons Fine Art Fair, which runs from July 14 to 17 in Southampton, where his works are expected to fetched impressive sums of money from the many collectors present.
Dowling expressed his gratitude for his newfound career in art, describing it as a “miracle” and attributing it to a higher power watching over him.
“Abstract Seduction” by John Dowling. $39,950 42”x58.6” abstract photographic montage on museum quality metallic archival paper and wood frame.
“Art really served as a spiritual awakening for me. This is something bigger than me… this is beyond me, this is a miracle,” he said. “People treat me as some sort of scholarly, creative genius, but even though I feel like I’ve always had those skills, I’ve never taken my digital abstractions this far before. It’s something I’m very grateful to have discovered, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”