5 Breakout Artists We Discovered at the Los Angeles Art Fairs Whose Work Stopped Us in Our Tracks
We combed through thousands of artists on view during the fairs to highlight our top picks.
The frantic art-fair energy was back in a big way in Los Angeles last week, ranging from the Felix Art Fair in Hollywood to Frieze Los Angeles’s new digs at the Santa Monica Airport to the often-zany upstart projects on view at Spring Break in Culver City.
Of course there is too much to take in—that’s at least part of the point, right? However, the Artnet News team was on hand to scour the aisles from the Westside to Hollywood Boulevard. Allow us to present some of our unforgettable favorites of the week. Read on to learn more about the artists we think could be poised for takeoff.
Who: Danie Cansino stands out for bold chiaroscuro oil paintings on wood panel as well as drawings in ballpoint pen on loose-leaf paper mounted on wood panel. After originally studying sculpture—she showed in a student exhibition at the American Museum of Ceramic Art—the artist earned her MFA at the University of Southern California in 2021. Cansino currently teaches at USC and is also a tattoo artist.
Based in: Los Angeles
Showing at: Felix Art Fair with Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles
Prices: $7,500 to $30,000
Why You Should Pay Attention: The source material that inspires the artist’s work originates from herself, her family and friends, and their shared surroundings. The geographies depicted in the works—East L.A. and Boyle Heights—reflect longstanding inhabitation by generations of her people as they grow up, move forward, and pass on. “The work is an assertion of presence, a declared union of people and place, and a meditation on growth and progress within a family and community,” said art dealer Charlie James.
Notable Résumé Line: Every painting in Cansino’s debut show was acquired by the Rubell Museum in Miami. An earlier work was acquired by the Xiao Museum in China.
Up Next: Cansino’s second solo show opens April 1 at Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. —Eileen Kinsella
Who: Mamali Shafahi creates works in multiple media that investigate technology’s impact on human evolution and culture. For Frieze Los Angeles, Dastan Gallery presented several of his recent relief sculptures and one freestanding, motorized piece, all of which transform some of humankind’s most primal sources of fear into objects of playful wonder. Shafahi’s use of materials is especially arresting; here, the artist applied flocked velvet to his epoxy compositions, then airbrushed waves of pearlescent color onto the lush surface. The results could be equally mistaken for magical totems or sci-fi inventions.
Based in: Tehran and Paris
Showing at: Frieze Los Angeles with Dastan Gallery, Tehran
Prices: €5,800 to €25,000 ($6,200 to $26,700)
Why You Should Pay Attention: Since graduating from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris Cergy in 2008, Shafahi has been steadily building up his institutional and commercial profile across continents. If his inclusion in both the 2022 Carnegie International and the latest Frieze Los Angeles are any indication, he could be on the verge of breaking out stateside.
Notable Résumé Line: Shafahi was one of the few artists to have multiple works featured in “100 Years,” the joint exhibition staged by Jeffrey Deitch and Gagosian in the Buick Building during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2022.
Up Next: Shafahi will open a solo exhibition at the Breeder gallery in Athens in September.
Alex Bradley Cohen
Who: At 33 years old, the Chicago born-and-bred painter Alex Bradley Cohen made waves at Felix Art Fair with his pictorial paintings featuring repeated imagery of figures in casual conversation at a sun-bathed table, with coffee mugs as a recurring trope. His blocky, saturated painting Keon on the Phone (2023) was a standout piece in Beauchene’s tower room booth, where she presented a group presentation of gallery artists.
Based in: Chicago
Showing at: Felix Art Fair with Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York
Prices: $9,000 to $20,000
Why You Should Pay Attention: Cohen is steadily becoming a museum favorite, with paintings most recently acquired by the Jewish Museum in New York, following acquisitions by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2020.
Notable Résumé Line: A 2018 group show at University Art Museum in Albany, New York, triangulated Cohen’s work with that of fellow rising stars Louis Fratino and Tschabalala Self. Titled “Triple,” the group show focused on artists who use figuration to express individual identities in similar but also radically different ways.
Up Next: New work by Cohen will be presented as part of Nicelle Beauchene Gallery’s 15th anniversary group exhibition this summer, followed by a project exhibition in the fall featuring new self-portrait collages.
Who: Polish artist Agata Bebecka painted an atmospheric mural of the night sky on which to display her oil paintings in a joint booth with Alessandro Giannì. The presentation was curated by her sister, Paulina Bebecka, director-at-large of Postmasters, who runs the Rome outpost of the New York gallery (which regularly shows at Spring Break).
Based in: New York City and Sarasota, Florida
Showing at: Spring Break Art Show with Paulina Bebecka
Prices: $2,000 to $4,800
Why You Should Pay Attention: These tiny, jewel-like canvases transport the viewer into magical (occasionally gory) little vignettes, with lush greenery and luminous pools. Some have distinct fantasy elements, such as depictions of Pagan rituals, while others are more ambiguously surreal, such as what appears to a mysterious geode pulled from crystal-blue waters. Despite affordable price points all below $5,000 and positive feedback from visitors, Paulina didn’t close any sales during the run of show—but fair sales continue on the Spring Break website through June 1, so you still haven’t missed your chance.
Notable Résumé Line: When Agata finished her BFA at New York’s School of Visual Arts in 2005, she got snapped up by none other than Marilyn Minter, working as a finisher in the famed feminist artist’s studio. Agata’s mastery of luminous color and carefully rendered details reflect the 10 years she spent helping produce Minter’s photorealistic canvases, but she’s clearly developed a style and subject matter all her own.
Up Next: Now that Agata is back to focusing on her own work, sister Paulina is planning to include her paintings in a group show about water this summer, featuring young contemporary artists from Postmasters in Italy—in Rome, or possibly in Naples.
Who: The 46-year-old painter, illustrator, sci-fi writer, and manga artist Aya Takano is a protege of Takashi Murakami, having worked as his assistant before building her own career as a solo artist under the Kaikai Kiki umbrella. “There’s a very Japanese, kawaii vibe to her work,” Margot Bravi, a gallery sales associate, told Artnet News. “She loves elements of nature and she’s created these very whimsical women of the water and the air who are trying to save the planet.”
Based in: Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
Showing at: Frieze Los Angeles with Perrotin
Prices: $80,000 to $90,000 for paintings, $8,000 to $10,000 for works on paper
Why You Should Pay Attention: Perrotin’s booth at Frieze was a sold-out affair. “It went to really good collections—people in the movie business,” Bravi said. The artist, who also has her own deck of illustrated tarot cards, paints with oils, creating female protagonists with an ethereal, almost mythical power.
Notable Résumé Line: Takano has shown with Perrotin since 2003, and has amassed almost 200,000 Instagram followers. Solo museum shows include “Synesthesia” in 2017, with the Monaco Project for the Arts and the École Supérieure d’Arts Plastiques.
Up Next: The artist is poised to return to the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon (MAC Lyon), where she showed with fellow Kaikai Kiki artists Chiho Aoshima and Mr. in 2006.
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