Looking for Fresh Talent? Here Are 7 Rising-Star Artists to Seek Out at Armory Week 2020 in New York

From the Armory Show to Independent to SPRING/BREAK, this week's New York fairs offer a sampling of exciting new talents.

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, A Master's Secret (2019). Courtesy of the artist and Nicelle Beachene Gallery.

The art world is preparing to descend on Manhattan this week for the 2020 edition of the Armory Show. What historically took place in individual rooms at the Gramercy Park Hotel now resides across two vast piers stretching out into the Hudson River. But of course, the Armory isn’t the only show in town this week—no fewer than eight satellite fairs are taking place, too, offering something for every collector’s taste and budget.

To help you navigate the influx of art, we’ve highlighted a group of up-and-coming talents to look out for—each with eye-catching work, critical and curatorial buzz, and a prominent presence at one of the week’s fairs. Happy looking.


Robert Nava

Robert Nava, <i>Untitled</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Sorry We're Closed.

Robert Nava, Untitled (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Sorry We’re Closed.

Who: The 35-year-old Midwestern native has been making waves with his stripped-down, raw portrayals of fantastical characters that blur the line between reality and fiction.

Based in: Brooklyn, New York

Where to See It: Sorry We’re Closed will mount a solo booth of the artist’s work at the Armory Show—his first major presentation in New York.

What to Know: In 2019, Nava—who earned his MFA from Yale in 2011—was the subject of back-to-back sold-out solo shows at Night Gallery in Los Angeles and V1 Gallery in Denmark. Nava’s seemingly carefree marks feel particularly fresh in the current painting landscape, which seems to favor more finely rendered, surreal tableaux. He is best known for drawings and paintings of imaginary monsters and ghosts, which resonate at a time when some of our collective nightmares feel as if they are coming true.

Prices: Drawings start at $2,000; paintings at $25,000

Fun Fact: Nava shares his studio space with his black cat, Jumanji.

Up Next: Nava will be part of a presentation from Night Gallery at the Dallas Art Fair in March. He has a solo exhibition at Sorry We’re Closed in September.


Devin B. Johnson

Devin B. Johnson, <i>Monique Lisa</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery.

Devin B. Johnson, Monique Lisa (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery.

Who: Johnson, who turns 28 this week and recently graduated from Pratt’s MFA program, bases his paintings on freestyle digital collages he builds from a mix of found material and personal images.

Based in: Los Angeles

Where to See It: Nicodim Gallery will present Johnson’s work in a group presentation at the Armory Show.

What to Know: Johnson’s work at the fair is a continuation of the series he began with “Melody of a Memory,” his first exhibition with Nicodim, on view in Los Angeles through March 21. His works are made from a pulsing mix of spray paint, acrylic, and oil sticks.

Prices: $10,000 to $40,000

Fun Fact: Johnson first started painting as a child watching and following along with Bob Ross. 

Up Next: The artist will be leaving for Kehinde Wiley’s prestigious Black Rock fellowship the week of the Armory Show. He beat out hundreds of applicants for the opportunity to complete a two-month residency at the Senegal art center.


Nevine Mahmoud

Nevine Mahmoud, <i>Perfect Orifice</i> (2020). Courtesy the artist and Soft Opening, London. Photo: Paul Salveson.

Nevine Mahmoud, Perfect Orifice (2020). Courtesy the artist and Soft Opening, London. Photo: Paul Salveson.

Who: London-born, Los Angeles-based Mahmoud is a 31-year-old sculptor who manipulates  materials traditionally associated with the masculine, such as marble and alabaster, into delicate carvings evoking the female form.

Based in: Los Angeles

Where to See It: Soft Opening’s presentation at the Independent fair. Her New York debut will feature four new freestanding stone works as well as two wall-based glass forms that represent a new direction for the artist.

What to Know: Mahmoud, who received her MFA from the University of Southern California after attending Goldsmiths, was handpicked by Maurizio Cattelan for inclusion in the buzzy exhibition “The Artist is Present” at the Yuz Museum in 2018. Her most recent solo show at Miami’s Nina Johnson Gallery late last year featured a 300-pound outdoor sculpture of a cherry with a 10-foot-tall stem.

Fun Fact: Mahmoud spends weekends in the desert with her 1988 Honda 250.

Up Next: She has her first institutional solo show at the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation at Hollyhock House in Los Angeles this summer.


Aaron Gilbert  

Aaron Gilbert, <i>Summons</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and PPOW.

Aaron Gilbert, Summons (2020). Courtesy of the artist and PPOW.

Who: The 40-year-old artist paints intimate scenes inspired by his experience of fatherhood. His works—eerie depictions of domestic life—look like what might happen if Fra Angelico had a lovechild with Frida Kahlo.

Based in: Brooklyn, New York

Where to See It: P.P.O.W.’s presentation at the Independent fair

What to Know: (Yet another) graduate of Yale’s MFA program, Gilbert is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He was also the subject of buzzy exhibitions with Nicodim Gallery and Lyles & King last year. 

Prices: $10,000 to $20,000

Fun Fact: The artist has a degree in engineering.

Up Next: This fall, Gilbert’s work will be included in a cross-generational exhibition at P.P.O.W. alongside of art of Martin Wong. The show will be one of the inaugural presentations at the gallery’s new Tribeca location.


Hilary Pecis

Hilary Pecis, <i>Morning</i> (2019). Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Hilary Pecis, Morning (2019). Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery.

Who: The California-born and bred Pecis has been earning widespread acclaim for her layered paintings of interior spaces that play with perspective as well as with the history of painting itself.

Based in: Los Angeles

Where to See It: Rachel Uffner’s presentation at the Independent fair

What to Know: Pecis’s skillful use of saturated colors, layered elements, and clever references will be on display in a new body of work that takes inspiration from Southern California light. She’s accrued a strong lineup of recent shows at such taste-making venues as Halsey McKay Gallery, Rachel Uffner Gallery, Guerrero Gallery, and The Pit LA. She also recently had her first solo show at an institution: the Crisp-Ellert Museum in Florida.

Prices: $7,500 to $30,000

Fun Fact: The artist took a year off from school to try to learn how to tattoo, but ultimately concluded it wasn’t for her.

Up Next: Concurrent with Independent, Rachel Uffner Gallery will stage Pecis’s second solo show with the gallery. Pecis will also be included in “FEEDBACK,” an exhibition curated by Helen Molesworth at Jack Shainman Gallery’s outpost at The School in Kinderhook, New York, this spring.


Tunji Adeniyi-Jones

Installation view of Tunji Adeniyi-Jones "Patterns and Rituals" at Nicelle Beachene Gallery.

Installation view of Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, “Patterns and Rituals,” at Nicelle Beachene Gallery.

Who: With a few years to go before turning 30, Adeniyi-Jones has been forging a name for himself with his fiercely bold figurative paintings that explore West African history and mythology.

Based in: New York, New York

Where to See It: Nicelle Beauchene’s presentation at Independent

What to Look Out for: For Independent, Adeniyi-Jones will debut large paintings and works on paper that he developed as one of 16 inaugural fellows at Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock residency in Dakar. A 2017 graduate of Yale’s MFA program, the artist has also exhibited at Eric Firestone Gallery and Johannes Vogt Gallery, among others.

Prices: $20,000 to $25,000 for large-scale paintings; $2,000 for works on paper

Fun Fact: He made the 2020 edition of Forbes‘s 30 under 30 list (for which Kehinde Wiley, not coincidentally, served as a judge).

Up Next: Adeniyi-Jones’s work is currently on view in the traveling exhibition “Young, Gifted, and Black: the Lumpkin-Bocuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art,” organized by Antwaun Sargent, as well as in the group show “All of Them Witches” at Deitch Projects in Los Angeles. He has a busy rest of the year as well: the artist will premiere new work at Morán Morán in Los Angeles in May, will be included in the Dakar Biennial this summer, and is slated to show in Ugo Rondinone’s 39 Great Jones Street window series this fall.


Kate Klingbeil 

Kate Lingbeil, <i>Leaf Season</i> (2020). Courtesy the artist and Field Projects.

Kate Klingbeil, Leaf Season (2020). Courtesy the artist and Field Projects.

Who: The young artist is like a feminist Hieronymus Bosch, transforming the landscape and the female form alike into a complex fantasia that makes what is usually invisible, visible. By delving beneath the surface of both the body and the Earth, she calls to attention how these intricate networks impact one another.

Based in: Brooklyn, New York

Where to See It: In a presentation curated by Jacob Rhodes, Rachel Frank, and Kristen Racaniello at SPRING/BREAK.

What to Know: Trained as a printmaker, Klingbeil has developed an expansive practice that encompasses printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, installation, and painting—sometimes in a single piece.

Prices: $2,000 to $12,000

Fun Fact: Entrepreneurial from the start, as a child Kate would charge the neighborhood kids a quarter to see her pet collection (which comprised 30+ small animals) in her family’s garage in Michigan.

Up Next: Kate will be a resident artist at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center later this year in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where she will be making a series of bronze sculptures in the Kohler factory.

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