The autumn & winter season has long been a highlight of the art world calendar. After a very different year, however, things could have been a little – dare we say – patchy. Thankfully, not so. The autumn/winter 2021-2022 exhibition schedule is jam-packed with exciting openings up and down the country, from a mesmerising new light show by Chris Levine at Houghton Hall to the first major Dame Elisabeth Frink large-scale sculpture show in 25 years. Read on for our guide to the unmissable art exhibitions worth travelling for this winter.
The UK Art Exhibitions To See This Winter
Until 23 December
Landing at historic Houghton Hall this month is 528 Hz Love Frequency, a brilliant new exhibition of works by British artist Chris Levine. Houghton’s inaugural winter show features a series of new holographic artworks, print works and large immersive laser and LED installations created specifically for the house and gardens.
Taking centre stage is Molecule of Light, a monumental spherical structure installed on the front lawn that emits modulating sound frequencies on the solfeggio scale which correlate to the energy nodes in the body known as chakras. At night, the installation bathes the lawn in an immersive field of laser light. Levine hopes the experiential work will draw visitors to stillness or into a brief mediative state that is both uplifting and purifying.
After meandering around the gardens, pit-stop for lunch at the freshly opened Suffield Arms, the latest gastro pub from rock’n’roll art dealer Ivor Braka. You’ll be dining in good company, of course, for hanging on the walls are works by such celebrated artists as Rob and Nick Carter, Gerhard Richter and Michael Landy. No wonder Norfolk has become the ideal arty weekend break.
Until 6 February 2022
Annie Morris is having a moment. In addition to her first UK solo museum exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, she’s enjoying a beautiful new solo show at Timothy Taylor Gallery in London (until 13 November) and inclusion in Frieze Sculpture (until 31 October). She’s also the creative genius behind the much talked about stained-glass installation at Claridge’s new art deco bar, The Painter’s Room.
Back in Yorkshire, at YSP’s Weston Gallery, you’ll find Morris’s vibrant, pigmented stacks alongside one of her ‘thread paintings’. ‘My sculptures are about holding onto something that’s fallen, and to express the hope and defiance of life,’ Morris has said. ‘They assemble to create abstract paintings that escalate upwards and express the fragility we all feel in our lives.’
Exquisite in form and colour, and drawn from great emotional depth, this group of works offers an exceptional, visual hit. Book tickets sharpish.
Until 16 January 2022
Using his own biography as a point of departure, Petrit Halilaj explorers cultural identity, nationhood and heritage, as well as ideas of personal and collective memories, freedoms and histories. It’s not surprising then that his first solo show in the UK packs a mighty punch.
Central to the exhibition is a major new installation, Very volcanic over this green feather, inspired by a collection of 38 felt-tip drawings Halilaj made as a child at the Kukës II and Lezhe-Shengjin refugee camps in Albania in 1999. The result is, quite simply, mesmerising.
Upon entering Tate St Ives’s largest gallery, you’re confronted by a series of large-scale images blending rural landscapes, animals and fantastical visions with scenes of war, violence and trauma. A powerful meditation on conflict, hope and lived experience, this exhibition more than merits a trip south.
Until 30 January 2022
Born in India and raised in the UK, Sutapa Biswas has spent much of her boundary-breaking career shattering Asian stereotypes and chronicling women’s ‘unheard, untold narratives’. Her art is raw, visually disrupting and often extremely challenging.
Spanning over 40 years, this magnificent survey looks at Biswas’s vital contributions to the Black Arts Movement in Britain, while exploring her wide-ranging practice, from early works on paper to photography and film that address notions of belonging, beauty and systems of knowledge and power.
Among the highlights are her mixed-media work Housewives with Steak Knives, from 1985, which depicts a modernised Kali figure holding the severed head of a white politician in one of her four hands; and her rarely screened video work Kali (1983-5), in which she dresses as the eponymous Hindu goddess and places a covering over the face of feminist theorist Griselda Pollock, then her university tutor.
Also on display is the artist’s new docufiction film Lumen, a poignant meditation on experiences of migration, love, becoming and desire. Needless to say, it’s essential viewing.
Until 16 January 2022
It’s been more than 25 years since the last major exhibition of Dame Elisabeth Frink’s large-scale sculptures but Messums in Wiltshire has more than made up for it with this beautiful show of figurative work reflecting on man’s existential crisis in the post-war era and the duality of masculinity. ‘I think the male obsession with power is something they have been brought up with,’ she once said.
Such celebrated works as Running Man, Seated Man and Judas are presented alongside her majestic bronze animals and examples from her Goggle Head series. Bryan Robertson, former director of the Tate, once described Frink ‘as an artist with great courage, integrity and style, someone who gambled continually against the odds both in work – against stylistic fashion, or any kind of comfortable or ingratiating image – and in her life.’ This exhibition proves that to be true and, in doing so, shows Frink’s work to be as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
Until 3 January 2022
If Thomas J Price hasn’t yet crossed your radar, he soon will. He’s exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, enjoying solo shows at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and London’s National Portrait Gallery, but is poised for widespread acclaim thanks to his first solo show at mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth in Somerset.
The exhibition includes work spanning film, early sculpture and figurative bronzes that confronts power structures, perceived public conceptions towards representation and identity, and learnt behaviours that guide our unconscious. Many well-known works are represented, including the artist’s celebrated public sculpture Reaching Out (2020), as are new works, including All In (2021), a towering 12-ft figurative bronze capturing an ‘in-between’ moment of everyday life.
Wander around the Radić Pavilion and Piet Oudolf’s beautifully planted gardens
before stopping for lunch at Roth Bar & Grill, the on-site restaurant serving delicious sweet and savoury treats. Go on, make a day of it!
13 November 2021 — 24 April 2022
Bringing together over 100 prints by 90 artists from the 1960s to the present day, this exhibition explores a transformational period in British art through the medium of printmaking. You’ll come across numerous styles and techniques, from etchings and wood engravings to lithographs and screenprints, as well as the work of such celebrated artists as Bridget Riley, Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin.
Highlights include David Hockney’s early etching Kaisarion with All His Beauty, made while a student at the Royal College of Art in 1961 and Lubaina Himid’s poetic lithograph Birdsong Held Us Together, produced in response to the period of lockdown during 2020. Also on display will be Chris Ofili’s Afro Harlem Muses from 2005 and work by early printmaking pioneers, including Julian Trevelyan and Stanley William. Not to be missed are works by Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton who looked to explore the connection between art, technology and popular culture.
10 December 2021 — 18 April 2022
Kehinde Wiley is the genius talent behind that Obama portrait. (Yes, we’re talking about the 2018 painting depicting the then president against a lush green backdrop of leaves and flowers.) The daring yet commanding work captivated the imagination of millions, thrusting the Los Angeles-born, New York-based artist onto the world stage.
Opening in December is a major new Kehinde Wiley exhibition at the National Gallery in London. For this show, Wiley shifts his focus from one European tradition — Grand Manner portraiture — to another: landscape painting. On display will be new artworks, including film and painting, that respond to epic scenes of oceans and mountains found in works by European Romantics such as Turner, Vernet and Friedrich.
Like his portraits, this body of new work draws on the Old Masters and raises fresh questions about power, privilege, identity, and, above all, the absence of Black figures within European art.