All human experience, colour, history and portraiture is here: Compton Verney reveals 2022 exhibition programme
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All human experience, colour, history and portraiture is here: Compton Verney reveals 2022 exhibition programme
Artist and writer Yayoi Kusama in her Shinjuku studio, Tokyo, 2016 © Alex Majoli,Magnum Photos.

COMPTON VERNEY.- Portraiture, painting and photographs are at the fore in a compelling 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 Myerscough.

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year
19 February – 5 June 2022
The House

The spring season begins with a celebration of eight years of Sky Arts’ most successful TV series, Sky Portrait Artist of the Year.

This 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 sheer 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, plus broadcasting legends Melvyn Bragg and Graham Norton.

Masterji (Title TBC)
12 February – 22 May 2022
The House

Maganbhai Patel (1923 – 2018), AKA Masterji, 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 a brilliantly 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 which have not been displayed before. The portraits will be accompanied by oral history interviews with members of the pioneering generation of South Asian migrants in Coventry, exploring the wider context of migration to the city and highlighting the challenges faced by many migrants coming to the UK.

Morag Myerscough
February 2022 - March 2023
Old Town Meadow & The House Courtyard

Internationally-acclaimed artist Morag Myerscough will create two of her characteristically bold installations at Compton Verney in 2022. The first – available to see between February and May 2022 – will completely transform the frontage of the Robert Adam-designed house.

Instead of the more familiar understated neo-classical architecture and warm-toned local stonework, visitors will be welcomed by Myerscough’s signature, vibrantly coloured geometric designs decorating two windows and the door entrance’s four pillars wrapped in contrasting patterns.

A second installation in the Old Town Meadow - site of the medieval village of Compton Murdak - opens in March and runs for the following 12 months. Again, using Myerscough’s attention-grabbing colours and variety of shapes, this new artwork has been envisaged as a performance arena, an interactive visitor experience in which people are encouraged to explore what has the feel of a 2-dimensional village – echoing the first settlement beneath their feet, which dates back to 1099.

David Batchelor: Colour Is
25 June – 2 October
The House

Compton Verney is proud to host the first large-scale survey of work by Scottish artist and writer David Batchelor (born 1955). 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.

A number of the works on display at Compton Verney are coming directly from the artist’s treasure-trove studio and have not been displayed in public before. Additional material from Batchelor’s archive, including numerous preparatory sketches and notebooks, will be displayed throughout the exhibition, shedding light on his working methods and sources of inspiration.

Magnum Photos: Where Ideas Are Born
11 June – 18 September
The House

This fascinating exhibition 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 revealing and characteristic 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, and the highly professional, capacious studios of the international stars of the contemporary art market.

The photographs, taken by such luminaries as Martin Parr, Inge Morath and Abbas, are the result of an attempt to capture the precise moments when the spark of creativity takes hold, and new ideas are born.

Luke Jerram: Drift
July - September
The Lake

From poetry on bread to a giant inflatable E. coli sculpture, Luke Jerram’s work is always fascinating, attention-grabbing and thought-provoking.

That is why Compton Verney is very excited to announce that it has commissioned Luke to produce a brand-new installation, to be sited on its iconic lake. Ten rowing boats will each include audio installations of stories submitted by participants from around the world. Visitors will be able to choose a boat and row out onto the lake for 30 minutes and experience a sonic journey, transported to another life and circumstance.

The live sounds of the rowing boat will blend with the recorded audio, to help create a truly engaging and immersive experience. All the experiences and testimonies collected from around the world, and from different cultures, involve boats in one form or another.

Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery
28 May – 4 September
The House

To coincide with the Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham during summer 2022, 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. In addition, they are all figures with local connections. Sitters represented include dub poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah (born and raised in Handsworth), artist’s Sonia Boyce OBE RA and Gillian Wearing, and athlete Denise Lewis

This exhibition has been created in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery as part of their transformational Inspiring People project which includes an extensive programme of nationwide activities, funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund. These ambitious partnerships with museums, local community groups and schools aim to bring the Gallery closer to communities across the UK.

Portrait Miniatures: Highlights of the Grantchester Collection
From October
The House

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 (1560/5-1617), John Hoskins (c.1595-1664), Richard Cosway (1742-1821), Thomas Day (c.1732-c.1807), George Engleheart (1750-1829) and John Smart (1742-1811).

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. The display will shed new light on these intriguing objects and will include a handling collection of miniatures.

Reena Saini Kallat
15 October 2022 – 29 January 2023
The House

This expansive exhibition showcases 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 (b. 1973, Delhi) 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.

Kallat’s thoughtful and compelling practice distils the global and local through large-scale installations, drawing, photography, sculpture, and video. Drawing inspiration from Compton Verney’s natural landscape and the connected world we are living in, this promises to be an immersive and thought-provoking show.

Julie Finch, Director CEO of Compton Verney says: “We are delighted to announce our 2022 programme in our galleries and grounds, as we open for a full 12 months of the year for the first time. 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. This is an exciting year for Compton Verney, as we prepare for a more positive future and welcome more people to the site than ever before.”

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