5 Rising Stars to Discover at the Liste Art Fair 2017

A variety of new talents surprise and delight at this year's fair.

An admirer gazes on John Russell’s painting in Bridget Donahue's booth at the Liste Art Fair. Photo by Andrew Goldstein.

Known as “the young art fair,” Liste is one of the year’s best opportunities for collectors to discover unheralded talents on the rise—the selection, scattered across a labyrinthine building and brought by some of the world’s best emerging-art galleries, is always teeming with eye-opening finds. Here is a handful of some of the breakout artists you should know about from this year’s fair, which runs until June 18.


Frutta – London

A young, detail-obsessed British artist, Lauren Keeley has devised a particularly demanding process to make her captivating hybrid paintings: first, she sketches out a precise design and then screenprints its components onto discrete pieces of canvas, wrapping each piece around a shaped support and then layering them into three-dimensional compositions with architectural heft. Showing scenes of everyday domestic life, the paintings can be viewed individually—or, if you take a step back, they snap collectively into a kind of frieze, each segueing into the other to show the passage of time over a day.

At Liste, Keeley, who studied art at Oxford and the Slade School of Fine Art, is presenting a vista of joggers doing stretches in a public park as the sun rises and sets, leaving the final pieces in a beautiful coloration of black and red; a park bench with joggers’ legs rounds out the installation. Other series of Keeley’s paintings have involved staircases, country living rooms, and quiet views from windows. Sold individually—meaning that the artist’s eventual curators will have to go on a scavenger hunt to assemble the groups—the paintings range from $7,000 to $11,000.


Laveronica – Modica, Italy

A Croatian artist in his mid-40s who lives and works in Zagreb, Igor Grubić studied at that city’s Jesuit University of Philosophy and has since been making artworks that use the human body—through performances, films, and photographs—to explore complex issues relating to the history of former Yugoslavia. For his best-known early series, Grubić visited the miners in Serbia’s desolate Kolubara district, whose massive labor strike at the turn of the millennium finally brought about the downfall of Slobodan Milošević. He photographed them individually against a painted backdrop of angel wings, à la Wim Wenders’s The Wings of Desire. (Photos from the series are now in Tate Modern’s collection.)

Now, at Liste, the artist is represented by a powerful two-channel video based on footage that he collected from the violent protests that erupted around gay pride parades in Belgrade in 2001 and Zagreb in 2002, in which huge mobs of homophobic men and women attacked the marchers. On one screen, you watch scenes from the riots; on the other screen, dancers reenact specific confrontations at the precise spot in the street where they occurred, drawing curious onlookers. Called, with mordant wit, East Side Story (in homage to another choreographed classic), the work is on offer for $40,000.


Galerie Crevecoeur — Paris

A certain feminine mystique pervades the work of the 29-year-old Parisian artist Louise Sartor, who paints her closely observed portraits of women on unexpected surfaces—canvas sneakers, for instance, or, at the fair, gently warping rectangles of cardboard. Never showing her subjects’ faces, she instead communicates their state of mind through their hand gestures and clothes, leaving the impression of a closeup out of French cinema, perhaps a humanistic Éric Rohmer romance, or maybe a thriller by Claude Chabrol. (Fashion magazines, too, come to mind.) The gouaches at the fair were priced at $4,500, but all have sold.


Bridget Donahue – New York City

Liste is known for its discrete, idiosyncratic, and relatively portable works, but John Russell’s cinema-screen-sized painting at Bridget Donahue galumphs as a shock—and, for the artist, it’s actually a small piece. An artist whose 54 years of age—not to mention collect-them-all schooling at St. Martins, Goldsmith’s, and the Slade—make him a veteran at the young art fair, Russell has brought a sweeping vista of a robotic dragonfly coursing over an ocean dotted with floating crucifixes towards a towering agglomeration of toads, faces, and other densely packed imagery. “A congealing mass of something” is how he describes it, explaining that the congealing factor has to do with Marx’s quote that “as exchange-values, all commodities are merely definite quantities of congealed labour time”; the blazing oranges, meanwhile, are a nod to Turner’s fiery seascapes.

In other words, there’s a lot going on in this crazy picture, which Russell made through a multiphase process of digital collage, 3D rendering, and retouching, printing them out on massive sheets of vinyl (like a high-end billboard) and then backlighting them with fluorescent bulbs for a glowing effect that amps up the colors. The artist likes his intensely visual paintings—sci-fi epics, really—to become immersive environments that “smash you in the face,” he says, and his largest to date has been 15 feet by 60 feet long. Russell, who is currently working on a debut film, will have a show at the Kunsthalle Zürich this August, and his work at Liste is priced at $18,000.


The Breeder — Athens

Born in South Africa and raised between Kythira and Oxford, the 30-year-old artist Zoê Paul is attracted to the simple sustainability of pre-industrial island living, from the tight-knit communities that arose over the need to pool basic resources to the wisdom of permaculture, in which people harvest their food from naturally forming ecosystems rather than planted farms.

At the fair, several works allude to this paradisiacal model in different ways. Elegant clay arms rise from the floor with sooty chars as traces of the ancient way they were made, placed in the ashes of wood fires allowed to burn for 24 hours. Hand-rolled beads fired in the same way make up a stylized nude portrait in the form of a hanging curtain—the kind used as a door in tropical homes, allowing for transparency and easy sociality. And refrigerator grills that she adorns with colorful weavings serve as a kind of memorial for the days before refrigeration, when people were compelled to eat together, using ingredients before they spoiled and minimizing waste.

Sending viewers further into her reverie, Paul’s installation gurgles with the sound of water from Janus-like fountains she has made, scattered with small coins of her own manufacture that show bodies in sexual acts and poses. Featured in a show last fall organized by the Deste Foundation and the New Museum, Paul just graduated from the Royal College of Art. At the fair, her works range from $11,000 for a smaller refrigerator weaving to $22,000 for the beaded curtain.

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