10 Artists to Watch at Frieze London, 1:54, and Sunday
Frieze London built its brand by claiming itself to be the defining voice on the cutting edge of contemporary art. The fair still remains fertile ground to discover new talent and fresh-out-of-MFA-program young upstarts, though to be fair, the art world’s overall attention has since broadened in scope. (Reflecting that trend, the winners of Frieze’s own Stand Prize for its Focus section of young galleries have consisted only of artists born in the first half of the 20th century for the past two years.)
Meanwhile, Frieze’s satellite fairs continue to provide collectors opportunities to dig deeper, exploring what directions contemporary art may head in next. Contemporary African art fair 1:54 brings together the strongest galleries globally showing artists who hail from the continent, while emerging fair Sunday offers 25 young galleries a chance to show a tight selection of artists in a triple-height industrial space just down the road from the Frieze tent.
That’s a lot of ground to cover. Artsy’s editors combed all three fairs in order to highlight 10 artists you’d do well to keep an eye on in the near future.
Many in the art world—and millions of suburban watchers of The View—became aware of Black after she penned a widely-circulated open letter calling on the Whitney Museum of American Art to remove Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955 at the age of 14. But the writer-cum-artist, who graduated from Goldsmiths art writing program in 2013 and from the Whitney Independent Study Program a year later, had been gaining critical and curatorial attention well before the controversy.
This year, Black has had solo shows at London’s Chisenhale gallery and Vienna’s MUMOK. For Frieze, she presents Beginning, End, None (2017): a 10-minute, three-channel video that brings together found footage from YouTube, images pulled from science journals, and a wireframe rendering of a panopticon. Another video by the artist, Intensive Care/Hot New Track (2013), was acquired by the Tate at Frieze. It intersperses audio files of interrogations that took place after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal with footage of Rihanna and Chris Brown, and, like Beginning, End, None, critiques social structures and power relations dictated by capitalism in a mode that feels incredibly current.
In the aftermath of this August’s riots in Charlottesville, where hundreds of white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus wielding tiki torches, Williams’s timely and important work should not be missed at Frieze. The large-scale collage reflects the Baltimore-born African-American artist’s ongoing psychoanalysis of our culture, here gathering imagery signifying topical feminist issues—as well as the historical treatment of women—into a contemporary portrait of the female. Images culled from the internet allow Williams to explore religious and mythological painting tropes, particularly Czech painter Alphonse Mucha’s “Slav Epic” series (1928). We find sexualized, emaciated women sampled from porn sites intermingled with emblems of power and capitalism: the First National Bank in Philadelphia, doctors who diagnosed women with hysteria, the alt-right, and a cluster of men (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson) arranged like cherubs. The presentation comes on the heels of Williams’s inclusion in a summer group show, “Lyric on a Battlefield,” at Gladstone Gallery in New York, and provides fresh reasons to watch her work going forward.
Zangewa has previously shown at 1:54 with Afronova gallery and in numerous group shows at institutions globally, including MASS MoCA’s current exhibition “The Half-Life of Love.” But this solo booth at Blank Projects is perhaps her most salient moment in the art market spotlight to date. Five of Zangewa’s angular tapestries, created from refuse silk, fill the booth. The works are from a new series called “Love and Happiness” (named for the Al Green song) and depict diaristic scenes of everyday life in which Zangewa herself features frequently. Inspired by Zimbabwean author Dambudzo Marechera’s novel House of Hunger (1978), the works offer an episodic glimpse of the progress that can be achieved by pursuing what the artist calls a “daily feminism.”
Piotrowska made her Art Basel debut this summer through a performance with Galeria Dawid Radziszewski—but it’s her formally arresting photographs, currently making a splash at Southard Reid, that suggest an even more promising future for the young Polish artist. Here, black-and-white images extend the makeshift childhood fort—those temporary hideaways built from jumbles of couch cushions, blankets, and bedsheets—into adulthood. Piotrowska tasked families and individuals with creating cozy, occasionally absurd environments within their homes. The resulting photographs see subjects squeeze into precarious assemblages of furniture and other belongings, their bodies and gestures becoming sculptural forms themselves. The presentation coincides with Piotrowska’s current solo exhibition at the gallery’s London space, and will be followed with her inclusion in the latest edition of the Museum of Modern Art’s influential “New Photography” series.
B. 1989, Beijing. Lives and works in New York
47 Canal, Focus Section, Booth H13
Sitting on its plinth at the center of 47 Canal’s Focus booth, Wu’s Foreign Object #1 Fluffy Light (terrence) (2017) looks a bit like a soap bubble. Closer inspection reveals two light meters affixed to the glass orb’s front and a set of blinking LED indicator lights nestled in its center amid other electronics. The work is a functional object of a sort: It’s meant to be taken with you to the movies—the source of inspiration for much of the artist’s practice—where you can use it to record up to two hours of ambient light on an SD card. At Frieze, the piece blinks as it records the relatively unwavering and flat light of the fair’s tent. But, during a January show at the gallery (which she shared with Ho King Man and Wang Xu, two other Chinese expatriates with whom she started a Chinatown exhibition space cum residency called Practice) it sat on the armrest of a theater seat and played back the grayscale recording of Wu’s trip to see Moonlight.
Young, self-taught Nigerian photographer Ogunbanwo explores masculine identity in his native Lagos. His minimalist portraits, which blend the aesthetics of fashion photography and classical portraiture, have been compared to the studio photography of the iconic Malian photographer Malick Sidibé; and indeed, like that great chronicler of 1960s Bamako popular culture, Ogunbanwo trains his eye on his society. When Ogunbanwo started observing Nigerian youth donning (and uniquely updating) hats traditionally worn by ethnic groups like the Yoruba, Ibo, and Hausa-Fulani, he zeroed in on these stylish subjects for a series of elegant portraits that reflect the generation’s evolving outward ethnic expression. (Millinery choices carry a lot of weight in Nigeria, and are a visual cue hinting at ethnic identity and social standing.) There are two of these arresting photographs in Cape Town gallery WHATIFTHEWORLD’s booth. Not So Sorry and Let it Be (both 2016) illuminate these caps through portraits in which we see their wearers only from behind, shirtless and turned away from the camera.
A Zimbabwean native residing in London, Hwami makes expressive, often autobiographical paintings that embrace her conflicting cultural identities as part of the African diaspora. Figurative compositions, like the nude portrait that commands the booth of Tyburn Gallery (Dance of Many Hands, 2017), imagine a utopian Zimbabwe-of-the-future in which LGBTQ culture, Afropunk, and internet culture thrive (no matter the social and political hurdles faced in the present day). One earlier painting, set in 2050, pictures a confident, transgender Zimbabwean individual post-surgery at Harare Central Hospital. The 1:54 presentation coincides with the artist’s first major solo exhibition, “If You Keep Going South You’ll Meet Yourself,” at Tyburn Gallery in London, for which her archive of family photos served as the inspiration for inventive, fictional narratives.
Wheat’s energetic “tapestries”—made by pushing paint through the back of mesh window screens—collide allusions to Egyptian relief sculptures and ancient Greek mythology. At Sunday, the former emerges through distinctive, brilliant golds and lapis lazuli blues. The Greek reference is even more profound. In contrast to Greek painting and sculpture, in which Herculean sportsmen ran or threw javelins, Wheat rewrites art history—depicting female figures in their place, clad in leotards and legwarmers, bending or stretching for their toes. The works are on offer for between $4,200–$25,000. The artist’s London presentation follows her first-ever solo museum show at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery, and precedes a solo exhibition at Brooklyn’s Smack Mellon gallery next year.
Though collected by a number of prominent French institutions, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Fondation d’Entreprise Galeries Lafayette, and the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Echard has only recently begun to show extensively outside of her home country. (A current exhibition at London’s Cell Project Space marks her first solo in the U.K.) Her works comprise a host of unlikely art materials: herbal remedies, fungi, diet Coke, birth control pills, sprigs of rosemary, opium poppies, assorted vitamin supplements, Kombucha, and pot among them. Strewn throughout shallow plexiglas vessels, she covers these materials with Pepto-Bismol-colored hair-removing wax and a layer of epoxy resin. The resulting compositions are as beautiful from afar as they are disgusting close up.
With the heavy hitters of the original Cluj School painters like Adrian Ghenie and Victor Man now outside the price range of many art buyers, attention has turned back to the Romanian city and its next generation of talent. Rosca is among the most promising we’ve seen of this new wave. His oil on wooden panel paintings (priced at Sunday for between €3,500 and €7,000) show a distinct influence from Ghenie, in particular, but trade thickly layered and spackled oils for flatness and angular quality reminiscent of Constructivism. His scenes—a man seated in an elaborate office, a polycephalous couple playing cards, a group of figures resting on spindly bunks—are depicted as if you’re standing at the edge of a stage set or peering, mesmerized, through a window into another world just slightly different from our own.
—Alexander Forbes and Molly Gottschalk