7 Rising Stars to Watch at the 2018 Armory Show

From a sensation in the photography world to a up-and-coming Senegalese painter, here are a few names you should know from the fair.

Simphiwe Ndzube, On the Unknown Mountain (2018). Courtesy the artist and Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles.

Out of all the fairs taking place this week, the Armory Show is the premier arena for blue-chip art and work by the world’s most established artists. But there are also many fresh discoveries that can be made for those willing to take a closer look. Here are seven artists showing at the fair who we think you’ll be hearing a lot more from in the future.


Omar Ba

Omar Ba, Combat de Pachyderme 1 et 2 (2017). Courtesy of Galerie Templon.

The first thing that Galerie Templon sold at the Armory Show preview was a $50,000 diptych on cardboard by the Senegalese artist Omar Ba—”within the first 10 minutes,” according to director Mathieu Templon. “No one knew him three years ago,” Templon said, but now Ba, who splits his time between Dakar and Geneva, is in high demand: The gallery sold one of the artist’s works to the Fondation Louis Vuitton in early 2017 and two others to the Louvre Abu Dhabi this past November. In September, Ba will have a solo show at Templon’s new Paris gallery in the Marais.

Deana Lawson

Deana Lawson, Wanda and Daughters (2009). Courtesy of the artist and Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

The artist and Princeton University professor has been the source of much buzz since several of her forceful photographs appeared in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, in a gallery that the New York Times‘s Roberta Smith called “one of the show’s best.” Last week, Sikkema Jenkins announced that it had begun representing Lawson, and her work is currently on view at the gallery through April 7. She will also have a show at the Carnegie Museum of Art, opening March 15. Chicago’s Rhona Hoffman Gallery had two photographs by the artists on offer at the Armory Show for $22,500 each.

Farley Aguilar 

Within hours on opening day, the New York gallery Lyles & King had sold five of the six paintings they brought by the Nicaraguan-born artist Aguilar, a self-taught painter who sources imagery from vintage photos, at prices ranging from $10,000 to $22,000. The sixth work was on reserve for a museum.

“We’ve had a tremendous response to his work from collectors in New York and Europe as well as American curators,” said gallery co-founder Isaac Lyles. “We’re thrilled.” Aguilar, who lives in Miami (where he won the $20,000 Florida Prize in Contemporary Art in 2015), is now due to have a solo show at the gallery in spring 2019, and he is currently in discussion with several European gallery about representation and shows there too.

Simphiwe Ndzube

Artist Simphiwe Ndzube with his paintings at Nicodim Gallery. Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Artist Simphiwe Ndzube with his paintings at Nicodim Gallery. Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

South African artist Simphiwe Ndzube, a Los Angeles transplant by way of Cape Town, was an instant and visually compelling Armory Show draw. Ndzube’s work is inspired by the South African working-class black men’s tradition of “swenking,” the term for informal competitions that are part fashion show and part dance-off.

At the solo presentation of Los Angeles gallery Nicodim Gallery in the main section of the fair, Ndzube’s figurative paintings were showcased alongside sculptures made of thrift-store garments and found objects that he stitched together into abstract bodies. The booth sold out within the first hour of the fair’s VIP opening, at prices ranging from $20,000 for sculpture to $50,000 for a large diptych. The gallery also sold a few additional pieces produced for the fair that were left behind in LA, according to gallery director Benjamin Lee.

Ndzube has a piece in a group show next month at the Cc Foundation in Shanghai, a project at Harper’s Books in the Hamptons in July, and a solo exhibition at The Rubell Family Collection in Miami this December.

Tabita Rezaire

Tabita Rezaire, <i>Inner Fire: Shadelicious</i> (2016). Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Tabita Rezaire, Inner Fire: Shadelicious (2016). Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

French Guyanese new media artist Tabita Rezaire, who currently resides in Johannesburg, is laser-focused on the concept of healing. Goodman Gallery’s solo booth at Focus is a tightly curated presentation of her work, including large-scale photos and a bright-pink gynecological exam table titled Sugar Walls Teardom (2016), Rezaire herself figures prominently as a “digital shaman” in the wildly colorful and psychedelic videos and prints.

Rezaire’s most recent solo exhibition, “Ultra Wet-Recapitulation,” just wrapped at the Royal Standard in Liverpool in mid February. Other solo shows last year included “Interlude Cum (Union) Territory” at School, in Vienna; and “Exotic Trade” at Goodman Gallery’s Johannesburg space. Her work is part of numerous group exhibitions and festivals in Europe and Australia in 2018 including: “MILF Plateaux” at Espace Témoin, in Geneva; “Play” at Blindside in Melbourne; Feminist Art Fest, at LAB, in Amsterdam, and “Future Love. Desire and Kinship” at Hypernature in Basel.

Vanessa Baird

Vanessa Baird’s installation at solo presentation booth by OSL Contemporary, Norway. Photo by Eileen Kinsella.

The immersive floor-to-ceiling  installation that fills the entire booth of Oslo’s OSL Contemporary space, reflects the artist’s preoccupation with current global crises, in particular those involving refugees, womens’ issues, and personal trauma. The multiple panels of draped work invite careful study, and quick realization that the artist’s use of whimsical and fairy-tale imagery hint at far darker themes. A similar body of work was recently presented at the Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo. Baird has upcoming shows at KODE Museum, in Bergen and another at OSL contemporary. The asking price for her works ranges from $250,000 to $280,000.

Claire Tabouret

Claire Tabouret at Night Gallery in the Armory Show's Focus section. <br>Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Claire Tabouret at Night Gallery in the Armory Show’s Focus section.
Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Without a doubt one of the buzziest booths at today’s VIP opening of the Armory show was Los Angeles hotspot Night Gallery’s presentation of work by French artist Claire Tabouret, featuring ominously clothed, yet oddly elegant, female figures sporting rubberized “fetish” clothing and gas masks. Gallerist Alexis Rose told artnet News that this body of work references an earlier series where the artist was interested in bondage and latex, not just as a fetish but as a “masking of the body” and references to a post-apocalyptic or future vision. Prices range from $42,000 to $47,000 for the paintings and $5,750 for the works on paper.

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