© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Leicestershire County Council Artworks Collection
John Copnall (1928–2007)
Leicestershire County Council Artworks Collection
Painter and teacher, born in Slinfold, Sussex, son of the sculptor Bainbridge Copnall. He studied at the Architectural Association, 1945–6; did his National Service in the Army; from 1949–50 studied with his father at Sir John Cass College; then under Henry Rushbury at the Royal Academy Schools until 1954, the year he won the Turner Gold Medal for landscape painting. Went to Spain to live until 1958, initially being a figurative painter, but by the time he returned he was committed to abstraction. Gesture and colour are distinguishing features of Copnall’s work, themes derived from sources such as jazz, window-bars in a studio or landscape. Copnall taught for many years from 1973 at Central School and was a visiting teacher at Canterbury College of Art for a time.
He won an E A Abbey Scholarship in 1970; Arts Council Awards, 1972–3; a British Council Award, 1979; and in 1989 was elected a LG member. Group shows included Wildenstein, 1958; Annely Juda Fine Art, from 1969; John Moores Liverpool Exhibition, from 1972; RA Summer Exhibition, from 1980; British and Irish Modernist Art, Christie’s, 1986–9; and Cross Currents, Reed’s Wharf Gallery at Barbican Centre, 1996. Had a solo exhibition at Piccadilly Gallery, 1955, later ones including Reed’s Wharf and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, both 1996. In 2005, Modern British Artists showed Landscape Forms, Copnall’s early works. Arts Council, Aberdeen and Bristol public galleries and other notable collections hold examples. Lived in London.
Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)