7 Young Artists Making a Big Impression at Photo London

The Belgian photographer Bieke Depoorter joined Magnum at the tender age of 25.

Tania Franco-Klein Our Life in the Shadows: Positive Disintegration (Self-Portrait) (2017)

Classic images by the big beasts of photography are on show—and sale—at Photo London, the fourth edition of which opens to the public today, May 17, at Somerset House. The fair offers exhibitions of works by its 2018 Master of Photography, Edward Burtynsky, and one of the founding fathers of the medium, William Henry Fox Talbot, plus classic images by the likes of Brassaï and Bill Brandt, among many others. At the same time, collectors are sure to find fresh talent as well. 

Here’s our pick of seven young artists who are stretching the medium, giving its traditions a fresh twist and attracting the interest of collectors and curators. One of them, Tania Franco-Klein, has already added a new prize to her burgeoning resume, winning the Photo London Artproof Schliemann Award 2018, which was announced last night. Something of a double whammy, the young Mexican artist who studied in London gets two residencies, one in Arles funded by Joana and Henrik Schliemann and the second in Tallinn at the Artproof workshop, which comes with a €10,000 ($12,000) production budget to create new works. 


Bieke Depoorter, Agata in Paris, France (2017)
Magnum, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo

The Belgian photographer Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986) was just 25 when she joined the Magnum collective. She became a full member in 2016. Her “collaborative portrait,” of Agata, a young woman she met in a Paris strip club, is part of an ongoing series. “They have just been to Athens,” says Sophie Wright, Magnum’s global cultural director.

In the past Depoorter has asked strangers if she should stay the night in their homes, including in Egypt. “It is an incredibly brave slash crazy thing to do,” Wright says. Depoorter’s work will be featured in Magnum’s space in London in the fall in a group show with two leading US Magnum members, Carolyn Drake and Susan Meiselas. Her work at the fair is priced at £3,800 ($5,122), edition of seven.

Fiona Struengmann, “Just Like You, But Different” (2017-18)
A.I. Gallery, London

The Munich-based artist Fiona Struengmann, who is a graduate of Parsons, has been mining an archive of around 7,000 found photographs and producing her own manipulated images. She transforms the snapshots of ordinary life in Germany from the 1920s to the 1950s by honing in on telling details, drawing attention to the way a woman is seated or a hand gesture, then blanking out the background, sometimes adding tiny drops of gold paint. Each is unique and at first glance the delicate monochrome images look like drawings.

“I was in a flea market and a woman came up to me and said ‘I have something for you,’” she explains of the source material. The artist kept some untouched but the rest form the basis of her series “Just Like You, But Different.”

She tells artnet News that she has discovered another trove, this time in France, this one “about slavery and colonialism.” Once again, a collector wants her to mine his archive.

Unique works at Photo London range from £800 to £1,350 ($1,000 to $1,820).


Tania Franco-Klein, “Our Life in the Shadows,” (2016-17)
Almanaque, Mexico City

The young Mexican artist Tania Franco-Klein (born 1990) studied architecture before heading to London to study photography. Her latest series of staged photographs addresses “the malaise of excessive positivity” that bombards millennials.

“Our Life in the Shadows,” deals with cinema, publicity, and the mass media as well as Instagram, says Arturo Delgado, the founder-director of Mexico City-based Almanque. The results are atmospheric, seemingly candid images that appeal to “very young collectors her age and very traditional collectors,” he says.

Presenting at Photo London for the first time, Delgado says that recognition abroad has boosted interest back home in Mexico. Franco-Klein won the 2017 UK Sony Photography Award and is a nominee for this year’s Foam Paul Huf Award (not to mention the already described Photo London Artproof Schliemann Award 2018). Works at Photo London range from £2,625 to £4,500 ($3,500 to $6,000), in an edition of six.


Thomas Kuijpers, “Bad Trip” (2017)
LhGWR, The Hague

The Dutch artist Thomas Kuijpers (born 1987) is a self-confessed news junkie with paranoid tendencies. His series of unique works, “Bad Trip,” channels our collective daily fears and news consumption—often sensational, sometimes fake—into unique works that are in high demand. Nine of the 11 had sold, with only two remaining on LhGWR’s stand at the fair.

Kuijpers takes images, sometimes on his iPhone, like a visual diary of his unease, and then places a blurry print on top of a stack of cuttings and notes that fuel his anxieties. These are sandwiched between perspex. One includes a shot of drone and a suitcase on the back seat of a parked car; another is taken in his favorite Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam. “It had recently had its windows smashed for the second time,” says gallery director Geertje Muffels.

The gallerist says that while Kuijpers will keep “sucking up the news,” he is heading to Sweden for a residency, for a deep dive into life in what is supposed to be one of the happiest countries in the world. Unique works from the “Bad Trip” series are priced at £3,500 to £5,000 ($4,720 to $6,740).


Gohar Dashti, “Home,” (2017)
Mohsen Gallery, Tehran

The Tehran- and Boston-based artist Gohar Dashti (born 1980) found abandoned homes in a town near Tehran, some seized by the Iranian government, and helped the ruins return to nature by filling them with plants. A modernist staircase becomes an indoor garden, for example.

Interest in her work, which includes photograms of crushed plants, is growing. London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has just acquired two prints, says Narges Hamzianpour, of Moshen Gallery, Tehran, adding that a pair of French collectors came to the fair specifically to see the latest work.

Like Dashti, Hamzianpour has a US passport, so presenting at Photo London for the first time was not a problem. She also made appearances at fairs in Shanghai and San Francisco recently. But she says the situation facing Iran after the US President ditched the nuclear deal means life is even more difficult in Iran. “We are trying to be positive,” she says, “but everything is getting very expensive.”

The artist’s works at Photo London are priced £3,980 to £4,860 ($5,370 to $6,555) for an edition of four. 


Amanda Charchain, Ariana (Mono) (2017)
Huxley-Parlour, London

The young Los Angeles-based artist Amanda Charchian’s work has featured in publications including New York and i-D. While her day job is mainly fashion photography, this new series of female nudes over which Charchian paints biomorphic forms in primary colors is a personal project.

Priced at £2,700 ($3,600) in an edition of three, they are presented by Huxley-Parlour on its all-female booth at Photo London. The London-based gallery only recently discovered the artist’s new series on Instagram and the fair marks the first time it has shown her work.


Ryan Halliwill, Untitled (2016)
MaryMary Projects, New York

All three artists MaryMary Projects of New York is presenting at its Photo London debut are under 27. Among them is Ryan Halliwill, born in 1991, who subverts images that he culls from glossy hardware catalogues and high-end advertisements to create sexy photocollages.

“It’s all about the body,” says Mary Ehni, co-founder of the gallery, which organizes temporary shows and presents at fairs rather than running a bricks-and-mortar space. “Ryan’s website is like a catalogue,” she says. The muscular image above, set in a luxury spa, is filed under “Physical Therapy.” Halliwill’s work is priced from $800 to $1,700 in editions of three to five.

Photo London is on May 15 through 20 at Somerset House, London.

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