5 Artists From Artnet’s Gallery Network Pushing the Boundaries of Contemporary Figurative Painting This October

Hailing from Cuba to Germany, we'll be following these artists closely.

Julio Larraz, In the Green Room with Winston (2017). Courtesy of Contini Art Gallery, Venice.

The Artnet Gallery Network hosts galleries around the world, and is constantly being updated with new and intriguing art and artists that you can easily browse from your own computer. From Venice to New York and beyond, the world’s leading art galleries are always just a few clicks away.

Here at the Artnet Gallery Network we are continually on the lookout for exciting new additions, which we highlight here every month. Below, we’ve rounded up five artists that stood out from the crowd, all working in their own unique figurative style.

Julio Larraz at Contini Art Gallery

Julio Larraz, Casabianca Maritime Power (2018). Courtesy of Contini Art Gallery, Venice.

Cuban-born artist Julio Larraz (b. 1944) began his career as a caricaturist and cartoonist, with his work having been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the Washington Post, among others. Within his painting practice, Larraz drawings inspiration from everyday life in the Caribbean, often infused with a nod to Surrealism, which can be seen in the unique perspectives and motifs employed in his compositions. He is currently the subject of a solo exhibition with Contini Art Gallery in Venice, Italy titled “The Allegory of Dreams,” which features works dated from the past decade that show his continued interest in historical art movements and metaphysics.


Nathanaëlle Herbelin at Xavier Hufkens

Nathanaëlle Herbelin, Dîner avec oiseaux (2022). Courtesy of Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Nathanaëlle Herbelin (b. 1989) focuses on lived experience and the relationship between art and life in her work, using people and settings from her own life as both subject matter and conduit to larger collective themes. The French-Israeli artist, a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (2016), recently had her debut solo exhibition with Xavier Hufkens in Brussels titled “Undivided Attention,” which featured a range of recent works that display a signature style comprised of modulated color and deft figuration. Conveying a profound sense of intimacy, Herbelin’s work captures people’s and place’s bearing and presence over exact likeness.


Thew Smoak at Latitude

Thew Smoak, Tell me (2023). Courtesy of Latitude Gallery, New York.

Painter and performance artist Thew Smoak (b. 1988) received their MFA from Yale University in 2022 and is undertaking a teaching fellowship with the Yale Norfolk School of Art this year. Also this year, Smoak has been the subject of three solo exhibitions, including with New York’s Latitude Gallery. Currently based between New York and Connecticut, Smoak’s work has a distinct element of otherworldly melancholy, achieved through a muted and dark color palette and broad swaths of empty spaces within their compositions. Through both the works’ execution and content, Smoak is able to engage with ideas around psychological space, temporal transience, and self-reflection.


Tania Marmolejo at Kutlesa

Tania Marmolejo, Wild Nature Wile Nurture (2023). Courtesy of Kutlesa, Goldau, Switzerland.

Tania Marmolejo’s (b. 1975) highly stylized figurative painting synthesize elements of femininity, nature, and concepts of nurture—and how these themes inform one another. Her first solo show, “The Nurturing Wild” at Kutlesa in Goldau, Switzerland, taps into subliminal power structures and questions about the dichotomy between nature and nurture. Originally from the Dominican Republic, the New York-based Dominican-Swedish artist also has a background in graphic design and illustration, and represented the Dominican Republic with textile designs at the fourth and fifth editions of the Ibero-American Design Biennial in Madrid.


Elena Von Kohn at ArtFortune

Elena Von Kohn, Age of Diversity (2023). Courtesy of ArtFortune, Scottsdale.

Originally from Germany, artist Elena Von Kohn (b. 1968) received her M.F.A. from the Moscow State Pedagogical University but ultimately moved to the United States in the mid-1990s and is currently based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her paintings reimagine the state of the world through using Surrealism and psychology to reexamine the boundaries between reality and possibility. Frequently incorporating the nude human form, the works are simultaneously a celebration of humanity as well as a symbol of free will and self-expression. Employing elements of both representation and gestural abstraction, the artist’s work invite prolonged looking and reflection.

Explore and discover more new artists to watch with the Artnet Gallery Network.

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