Not Done Star Spotting? Here Are 5 Exciting Artists at the Los Angeles Fairs Whose Careers Are About to Take Off
We scoured the aisles of Frieze, Felix, and Spring/Break Art Show to bring you the artists most worth watching.
After a busy fair week, the countless works on view can begin to blur together for even the most seasoned art collectors, curators, and advisors. So naturally, any standout pieces that stick in your mind without scrolling back through your camera roll are worth paying attention to. More often than not, those are the artists who will come to be fixtures at future fairs and exhibitions, and before you know it they’ll be gatekept by a miles-long waiting list, and you’ll wish you had jumped in when you had the chance.
With that in mind, the Artnet News Pro team scoured the aisles of three fairs in Los Angeles this past week, intent finding the brightest stars emerging from Frieze, Felix, and Spring/Break Art Show. Based on everything we’ve seen, plus our conversations with galleries, collectors, and other art world cognoscenti, these are the artists on the verge of career breakthroughs on the strength on their L.A. showings. Take a look—and take note!
Who: As an African American, Hubert Neal Jr. was acutely aware from childhood of the police brutality perpetrated against the Black community. Neal knew he was going to be an artist from the age of nine, but he also realized that addressing the issue of racially-based violence in his work might be a hard sell for some audiences. So in college, he began painting simplistic, cartoon-like figures in bold colors, drawing from influences including Romare Bearden collages, Keith Haring, and Ethiopian art. “I recognized even then that people turn away when it’s too realistic, so I was going to have to come up with my own style to tell ugly stories,” he told Artnet News.
Based in: Chicago
Showing at: IV Gallery, Los Angeles, at Spring/Break Art Show
Prices: $6,000 to $9,000
Why You Should Pay Attention: The bold colors and punchy line work of Neal’s paintings immediately draw you in. But then it hits you that his grinning blue figures are sadistic cops, brutally attacking Black men and women whose names have been taken from the headlines. The realization comes almost like a physical blow itself, and a powerful mental reminder of the the horrible reality of the deaths of men and women like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and too many others. The work is effective, both visually and emotionally.
Notable Resume Line: The artist was included at the 2012 group show “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” at the Queens Museum of Art and El Museo del Barrio in New York, and a 2018 group show at 21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville, Arkansas.
Up Next: Neal will have his second show at IV Gallery of works from the “Black and Blue” series.
Who: Leda Catunda was hard to miss Frieze, where her hand-painted fabric sculpture Besouro was hanging in a prominent thoroughfare between two the two main tents. The 60-year-old artist uses soft materials, including found textiles such as soccer jerseys and bedsheets. The six-and-a-half-foot-tall piece at the fair was an especially ambitious pandemic project, which saw Catunda painstakingly paint each individual petal with different patterns and designs.
Based in: São Paulo
Showing at: Bortolami Gallery, New York, at Frieze
Why You Should Pay Attention: “Leda Catunda is not a household name here in the States, but she’s the foremost feminist painter in Brazil,” Bortolami associate director Loreta Lamargese told Artnet News. “Everybody who’s come into the booth who is Brazilian knows exactly who she is.”
Notable Resume Line: A two-person show with Alejandra Seeber at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, better known as MALBA, closed in September, Museu de Arte do Rio.
Up Next: Catunda doesn’t have U.S. representation, but later this year, Bortolami will stage her first solo show in the country since a 2004 outing at Galeria Ramis Barquet in Queens.
Who: A 25-year old British artist whose work plays with mediation—art as mediated through other art, or in this case, through nature.
Based in: Hastings, England
Showing at: Chris Sharp, Los Angeles at Felix Art Fair and Alison Jacques, London at Frieze Los Angeles
Prices: $2,500 to $8,500
Why You Should Pay Attention: Fresh off solo shows at Chris Sharp and Alison Jacques last year, viewers could see Barber’s work at both Frieze and Felix. The compelling diminutive works presented by Chris Sharp at Felix—stuffed canvases—are actually stuffed with other canvases and have highly textured painted surfaces. In this case the subject matter is a series of birds of Britain but Barber is also paying homage to to David Hockney, another British artist who is also known for his longstanding connection to and love of Los Angeles culture and especially its ubiquitous blue swimming pools.
Notable Resume Line: The title of Barber’s recent show at Alison Jacques, “How Much Love Can a Love Bird Love, Can a Love Bird Love a Love Bird,” was inspired by “an otherwise innocuous entry” in her Internet search history. “Contrary to popular belief, lovebird parrots do not die when separated, although the strength of their connection is heartening,” informed a statement about the show.
Up Next: A solo booth at Independent with her London gallery, Alison Jacques in May, and Sharp is planning her second solo show at his gallery in 2023. She’s also currently featured in the group show, “Girls, Girls, Girls” at Lisamore Castle.
Kye Christensen Knowles
Who: A young artist whose often large-scale works mash up “a whole slew of references from classical painting, to comic books to science fiction, to Japanese comic books, to even early Modernist painters, and also bringing in images from punk iconography,” according to Lomex gallery director Alexander Shulan.
Based in: New York
Showing at: Lomex, Tribeca, at Felix Art Fair
Prices: $20,000 to $40,000
Why You Should Pay Attention: Four of five of these arresting works sold from previews before the Felix opening. Part of the fun is that the wild mix of styles and influences result in works that could either feel old to the point of being ancient, or extremely contemporary. As Shulan described it: “they could be from the future, but one where they have degraded so much that it’s the far past.” As complex and multi-layered as his labor intensive paintings are his style is constantly evolving. The artist has created “this whole mythological universe that’s totally his own.” says Shulan. Due to his labor-intensive paintings—with each work taking months to complete, the artist only produces about twelve works a year.
Notable Resume Line: Both Shulan and the artist, who have known each other for about five years, were heavily influenced in their adolescence by famous Swiss artist H.R. Giger, known for his biomechanical works and designs for films including Alien and Dune. Giger’s works were also on display at Felix and are the subject of a current solo show at Lomex, New York.
Up Next: Frieze New York in spring 2022.
Who: This Tulsa-born artist grew up watching his father do construction jobs around the city, and created an artistic practice based on his knowledge of materials from construction sites—namely plywood, plaster, and other things you can find at Home Depot. Fahler came into his own, though, during an apprenticeship in Amsterdam studying Tiffany glass. Since then, he’s known for his stained glass sculptures that hang from bespoke wall mounts, which are often casts of the artist’s hands.
Based in: Los Angeles
Showing at: Stanley’s at Frieze Los Angeles
Prices: $7,500 to $30,000
Why You Should Pay Attention: A standout of Frieze Los Angeles’ Focus Section, Fahler’s work had nearly sold out within the first few hours of the VIP opening.
Notable Resume Line: Last fall, Fahler had a two-person exhibition at MOCA Tucson with emerging talent Rafa Esparza. The duo also presented a joint exhibition at University of Arizona’s Joseph Gross Gallery.
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