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23rd Jan, 2022

Portraiture, painting and photographs feature at Compton Verney this year

PORTRAITURE, painting and photographs feature in a mix of historic and contemporary exhibitions at Compton Verney in 2022.

The Warwickshire art gallery and park will also unveil two outdoor installations, by renowned artists Luke Jerram and Morag Myerscoug. The house exhibitions include:

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year (February 19 to June 5) – celebrates eight years of the Sky Arts’ TV series.

The commemorative exhibition is curated by one of the programme’s guest judges, Kathleen Soriano, and will feature over 120 works, selected from submissions to the competition by more than 1,000 artists, who have taken part since it was launched in 2014.

Showcasing the diversity of the different styles, media and approaches taken to portraiture, the exhibition will also display past winners’ work and their subsequent prize commissions for major museums and galleries.

Several famous faces will return the viewer’s gaze, including celebrity sitters such as actors Kim Cattrall and Stanley Tucci, musicians Rick Wakeman and Nile Rodgers, writers Bernardine Evaristo and John Cooper Clarke, and broadcasters Melvyn Bragg and Graham Norton.

Masterji – February 12 to May 22 – focuses on Maganbhai Patel aka Masterji, who came to national attention in 2016 when, at the age of 94, he received his first solo exhibition as part of Coventry’s bid to become UK City of Culture.

For decades prior to this, Masterji was a well-known figure within Coventry as the first Indian photographer in the city.

After arriving in Coventry in 1951, Masterji took a job at the General Electric factory and saved up to buy a camera. As word of his photographic skills spread, he was hired for weddings and other social events, prompting him to quit his job and set up a studio in his home.

He eventually opened Master’s Art Studio in 1969, with his portrait photographs becoming an evocative record of people migrating to the West Midlands and making it their home.

This will be the most comprehensive exhibition of Masterji’s work to date, bringing together portraits taken across his five-decades-long career, including several not been displayed before.

David Batchelor: Colour Is (June 25 to October 2) – sees Compton Verney host the first large-scale survey of work by Scottish artist and writer David Batchelor. For three decades, Batchelor has been concerned, above all, with colour. His work reflects both a delight in the brilliant hues of the urban environment, and an inquiry into how we respond to this rapidly changing technological environment.

Including work in a wide range of media, from sculpture, installation and drawing, to painting, photography and animation, Colour Is will take visitors on a journey through Batchelor’s career, starting with his pre-colour works from the 1980s. These give way to his earliest experiments with colour and found objects in the ‘90s, and vivid multimedia installations during the 2000s. The exhibition culminates with recent work, including a glowing animation, in which sentences beginning with the words ‘Colour is…’ are projected in a continuously changing colour-saturated space.

Magnum Photos: Where Ideas Are Born (June 11 to September 18) – goes in search of the places where creativity takes shape and where ideas are born – the artist’s studio.

The show brings together more than 20 famous photographers from the world-renowned Magnum agency and includes over 80 photo portraits of the artists who created art history in the 20th-century.

In a series of images, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon, Ai Weiwei and Yayoi Kusama can all be seen in their creative environments. These range from the cramped ateliers of the Parisian avant-garde at the beginning of the 20th century to the American pop artists’ New York lofts.

Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery (May 28 to September 4) – coincides with the Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham next summer. Britain and the World will explore the role of modern Britain in the 21st century through ten loans from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

These will be shown alongside portraits from Compton Verney’s British Portraits collection, highlighting connections between some of the people represented and posing questions about who we might choose to immortalise in a contemporary portraiture collection, in contrast to the monarchs, aristocrats and military leaders of the past.

The show features figures whose ideas, achievements, art or activism have helped to shape modern British society and the wider world.

Portrait Miniatures: Highlights of the Grantchester Collection (from October) – In 2019 Compton Verney received a bequest of 70 portrait miniatures from the late Lady Grantchester, sister of founder Sir Peter Moores.

The bequest, of mainly 18th-century works, includes nine portrait miniatures considered to be ‘masterworks’, representing specialist artists such as Isaac Oliver, John Hoskins, Richard Cosway, Thomas Day, George Engleheart and John Smart.

The exhibition acts as the formal launch of the permanent display of the miniatures, which will be shown in new bespoke housing in the Women’s Library.

Reena Saini Kallat (October 15 to January 29, 2023) – will showcase a decade of Reena Kallat’s work, while introducing a number of new pieces created especially for Compton Verney.

A world-renowned visual artist, Kallat who lives and works in Mumbai, is interested in how political and social borders can act as divisions between countries and people, and this resonates with the ongoing effects of the 1947 partition of India, which her family experienced.

Julie Finch, Director CEO of Compton Verney says: “Compton Verney is an extraordinary place, where we deliberately blur the boundaries between art, architecture, landscape, science, and nature.

“Our full programme for 2022 offers breadth in artistic mastery and originality as we host and share work never seen before by the public and some which is more familiar. We bring together the old and the new in unexpected ways and spaces, our audiences will encounter art throughout their visit.”

Visit www.comptonverney.org.uk for full details.

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