Art Market

15 New Dealers to Watch at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Demie Kim
Nov 26, 2016 4:54PM

Next week, collectors, curators, and artists from around the world will convene for the 15th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach. Of the 269 dealers from 29 countries selected to participate this year, 21 are first-time exhibitors. They hail from both established and up-and-coming art world capitals—Mexico City, Hong Kong, and Brussels among them—and anticipate new international exposure for their artists, many of whom are young and emerging, or historically overlooked. Below, we highlight the 15 most exciting new additions. With the exception of two galleries established in the 1980s, all were founded within the last decade—from the socially engaged West Coast gallery Various Small Fires to the cross-disciplinary Shanghai arts space Leo Xu Projects.

Back when French dealer Edouard Malingue opened his influential Hong Kong gallery in 2010, he was among only a handful international galleries in the now burgeoning Asian art capital. The dealer opened a second space in Shanghai’s West Bund district in early November. And today, he stands out due to a solid roster of artists working across various media in Asia and abroad—including Sun Xun, Tromarama, Ko Sin Tung, Laurent Grasso, and João Vasco Paiva. According to associate curator of the Public Art Fund Emma Enderby, an additional strength of the gallery lies in its “public and critically engaged program,” which includes pop-up exhibitions, outdoor sculpture commissions, and public performances extending into Hong Kong’s bustling streets. “They have continued to expand and grow their diverse program, locally and internationally, recognizing the need for criticality within emerging local markets.”


“As a gallery based in Hong Kong and now Shanghai, we wanted to present a local artist,” explained Jennifer Caroline Ellis, the gallery’s head of projects and development, who notes that the gallery’s debut at Art Basel in Miami Beach will mark the first time a Hong Kong gallery exhibits at the Miami fair. “Our program is committed to placing Asian and international artists working across different mediums in dialogue with one another.” Works by Wong Ping, whose vibrantly colored, Pop-inspired video animations allude to sexual, political, and social limitations in Hong Kong, will be shown in the fair’s Nova sector. Eric Baudart’s Atmosphère (2015)—an aquarium filled with oil and a slowly moving electric fan—will be on view in the Public sector, in addition to films by Samson Young (who will represent Hong Kong in next year’s Venice Biennale) and Indonesian collective Tromarama in the Films sector.

Based in an old auto repair shop with 17-foot-high ceilings, Christian Andersen’s Copenhagen gallery challenges Denmark’s conservative market—where painting is traditionally the preferred medium for collectors—with a roster of young international and Danish artists working conceptually across media. “Early on, the program was very influenced by a specific interest in language and new materiality,” said Anderson, but has since “taken on a life of its own,” thanks to the gallery’s community of artists. “In the end it’s about an environment and the relationships we forge between each other,” he explained.

At Art Basel in Miami Beach, the gallery will show hand-crafted clay masks and wall pieces by Paris-based Israeli artist Shelly Nadashi, who exhibited at Manifesta 11 in Zürich earlier this year and currently has a solo show at Dortmunder Kunstverein. The wall pieces will see a clay bird motif juxtaposed against white industrial tiles. “In the background rests a globally standardised tile, an architectural unit dedicated chiefly to cover, maintain, and measure surfaces,” said Andersen. “The birds suggest flight and movement—feathered and swooping—yet their own gravity weighs against them.”

Los Angeles gallery Various Small Fires is pushing forward existing art-historical and contemporary discourse through socially engaged programming—from fresh, generationally relevant shows by an over 50 percent female roster to reinstalls of major exhibitions from the ’60s. The gallery’s 5,000-square-foot space spans three interior galleries, a sound corridor for year-round audio programming, and an expansive outdoor gallery devoted to large-scale sculptures, installations, and performance art. According to LACMA’s associate curator of contemporary art Christine Y. Kim, Various Small Fires is among an increasing number of young L.A. galleries who are, amid the influx of mega international galleries, showing a commitment to emerging Los Angeles-based artists. “Various Small Fires’ approach reads as a slow, steady burn (pun noted!), working with local artists who want to be in it for the long-run, and who want to recognize the importance of artistic growth, institutional relationships, and community participation.”


Following the success of L.A. and New York-based Amy Yao’s first solo show at the gallery this winter, Various Small Fires will stage two of the artist’s “striking yet sardonic social critique works” at Art Basel in Miami Beach. The first, from her “Intercontinental Drift” series (2016) will see an assortment of faux flowers installed in the booth walls and sealed beneath a pane of plexiglass; the second, from “Doppelgängers” (2016), consists of a massive heap of rice, fake rice, and fake pearls, in reference to a 2015 scandal in China after it was discovered that rice producers were mixing plastic rice in with their grains, resulting in widespread illness among the poor. “Both works highlight the dichotomy between honest and fraudulent production, questioning contemporary society’s ability to distinguish the two while addressing the limitations of authenticity as well as the allure of artifice,” noted director Sara Hantman, who runs the gallery with owner Esther Kim Varet.

In October 2013, founders Romain Chenais, Jason Hwang, and Philippe Joppin harnessed their background running one of Paris’s hippest and most prescient project spaces, Shanaynay, to establish High Art. Passing Shanaynay on to the next generation, they set up shop nearby, in Paris’s gritty 20th arrondissement. Two years later, they collaborated with four galleries to co-found the nonprofit art fair Paris Internationale, with the lofty goal of further empowering a new generation of gallerists. “Attempting to account for an expanding field of art, we hope to foster new networks, economies and works of art,” said gallery director Chenais. “Our program privileges idiosyncrasy above all else.”

At the fair, High Art will present a solo project by L.A.-based artist Max Hooper Schneider, whose work they collectively describe as “recalcitrant experimentation.” Schneider, who mounted a solo exhibition at the gallery last fall, creates dramatic mixed-media terrariums that incorporate both natural and artificial materials, such as insect and animal matter, neon signs, and plastic flora. In Miami, the artist will debut his new “trans-habitats” which continue this exploration of biological and man-made ephemera.

Though JTT opened its brick-and-mortar space in spring 2012, its roots stretch back to the early 2000s, when a community of artists befriended each other while attending art school at NYU—the same artists who now represent over a third of director Jasmin Tsou’s program. “Having that core of friends at the very start set a tone as to how I relate as a dealer to all of the artists that have joined the program over the past four years,” she said. “In the current state of the art market, having a dealer-to-artist relationship founded on trust and communication is essential.” JTT’s roster includes some of contemporary art’s most exciting young names, including Cole Sayer, Jamian Juliano-Villani, and Anna-Sophie Berger. “I give JTT great respect for being able to spot talents across generations, yet still having a focused, progressive and cohesive program,” said collector and M Woods co-founder Michael Xufu Huang.

In the fair’s Positions sector, JTT will present a solo booth by L.A.-based figurative painter Becky Kolsrud. Depicting what she calls “invisible women,” Kolsrud makes portraits of women featured on advertisements and shop signs, and often obscures her subjects behind a metal security gate. On the significance of the gallery’s Art Basel in Miami Beach debut, Tsou noted that “Becky’s work in particular is in dialogue with painters from the 20th century such as David Hockney, Sigmar Polke, Martin Wong, Joan Brown and Francis Picabia. I would say my biggest hope from the fair is for Becky to be seen in company with those who have influenced her.”

Inspired by creative agencies and architectural firms, Shanghai dealer Leo Xu has expanded the scope of the traditional gallery model in China, nurturing artists’ careers while broadening their practice by encouraging collaboration across disciplines. His gallery Leo Xu Projects is focused on two main areas: fostering a dialogue between emerging and mid-career artists, both in China and abroad; and studying urban and increasingly new media-driven cultures. Curator and Serpentine Galleries co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist described him as in a class of his own: “Leo Xu is Leo Xu and everything else is everything else.” Indeed, the dealer has exhibited some of the most promising young names in Chinese art, particularly those questioning social change in contemporary China, such as video artists Cheng Ran and Liu Chuang and photographer Chen Wei.

Taking inspiration from English science fiction novelist J.G. Ballard’s imagining of the urban experience, Leo Xu Projects will present recent and new work by three emerging Chinese artists who are exploring the Chinese diaspora in their work. This “neo-Ballardian vision of urban living” will include an algorithmic installation by aaajiao, an architectural painting by Cui Jie, and a cross-media collage by Liu Shiyuan. “With the rise of Shanghai on the cultural map and as a new urban model,” said Xu, the booth will create a dialogue between the artists’ work and their various influences in the city, including “economy, cultures, and communication.” For the dealer, this first outing at Art Basel in Miami Beach will expand the gallery’s footprint in the U.S. beyond Frieze New York. “And it brings me to a frontier where I reach for other parts of America,” said Xu, referencing the Miami fair’s key role in the art world as a bridge between North and Latin America.

With spaces in both Mexico City and Mérida, dealer José García Torres has built his program by collaborating with the artists he admires, as well as those he can “connect with on a more personal level.” The gallery’s roster includes international heavyweights (and longtime friends) Simon Fujiwara and Christian Jankowski, as well as those engaged in the social and political realities of Mexico, such as Edgardo Aragón and Eduardo Sarabia. “José García Torres has built a baseline that transcends the structure of a classic gallery,” said Mexico City-based curator, collector, and philosopher Patrick Charpenel. “The work operates on experimentation principles, allowing their artists to create outstanding expositions and develop unprecedented artwork.”

“We already had a booth planned, but after the recent U.S. elections we decided to give it a twist and focus the presentation more on Mexican artists with a political point of view,” said Torres, whose booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach will include, among others, work by Guadalajara-based American artist Sarabia, whose multimedia practice explores the border between U.S. and Mexico. “I think this is a very important moment to stand up against hate and divisive thinking and emphasize the importance of Mexican culture, especially within the current context in the United States.”

Located in London’s Mayfair district, Vigo represents a diverse roster of both emerging and established names, including New York-based rising star Derrick Adams and British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové. In addition to its contemporary focus, the gallery shines light on historically overlooked and financially undervalued artists—for whom they’ve placed more than 20 works into the collections of prominent museums, including the Met and the Tate Modern, in the past two years alone. “Ever since I met Toby years ago, he has had a program of wonderful young international artists and historical discoveries,” said collector and philanthropist Beth Rudin DeWoody of Vigo director Toby Clarke. “I am always blown away by his level of taste and discerning eye.”

In its first foray at the fair, Vigo will show historic works on paper by Ibrahim El-Salahi, the Sudanese “godfather of African Modernism” who in 2013 became the first African artist to have a retrospective at the Tate Modern. In 1975, the artist, then serving as Sudan’s undersecretary for culture, was held as a political prisoner without trial for over six months. The booth will focus specifically on the years immediately following the artist’s release from prison in 1976. “This period, and specifically 1977, was perhaps his most creative time, when he was full of joy at regaining his freedom after being wrongly accused,” noted Clarke. “It was also an end of an era and the start of a new period as it marked the last time he would live in Sudan.” In Miami, the gallery hopes to expose these works—which hail from the artist’s private collection and have never been exhibited before—to collectors and curators from around the world.

Since opening in the late 1980s with a then-emerging Thomas Struth’s first international show, Galerie Greta Meert has exhibited minimalist and conceptual artists who were once lesser-known in Brussels—including Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle, John Baldessari, Donald Judd, and Isa Genzken. The gallery, based in an Art Nouveau building in central Brussels, has continued this approach through the years, charting new generations of artists and offering a platform for young or emerging artists to “start a dialogue and discuss their philosophy in every manner, beyond generations and working method,” said the gallery’s Damien Lemaître.

A long-time participant at Art Basel in Basel, the gallery looks forward to exposing the work of their artists to Central and South American curators and collectors at their first outing at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Their booth will include works by Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle, John Baldessari, Edith Dekyndt, Jean-Luc Moulène, and Iñaki Bonillas. “The circular movement will be somewhat the main focus, this means in terms of generations and concepts but also in a formal manner, in a way a clear metaphor for what we stand for,” said Lemaître.

Originally opened in L.A.’s Chinatown by curator Mara McCarthy, in 2012 The Box moved to a 6,000-square-foot industrial space in the downtown Arts District—becoming a leader in the city’s eastward gallery migration. In addition to staging large-scale installations, performances, and events, and encouraging young artists to experiment, the gallery also organizes historical retrospectives to contextualize the work of significant artists, such as pioneering feminist artist Judith Bernstein and avant-garde filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek. “Since 2007, The Box has worked to create a program that balances historical artists with those of a younger generation, while also investing in political and experimental practices of the art community,” said McCarthy. “This multi-generational approach allows for a diverse interconnection of historical and contemporary work.”

At Art Basel in Miami Beach, The Box will show work by the seminal feminist and performance artist Barbara T. Smith, a pioneering figure of the L.A. avant-garde for over 50 years. In a small black box gallery within the booth, the time-lapse film Light Watch will loop. The film sees a single resin blade from Smith’s monumental Field Piece sculpture (1968/1971) planted in a shoreline through changing tides over the course of a day. Also on view are sculptures of performance relics, personal mementos, and detritus encased in resin—a material Smith long admired for its paradoxical quality. “We believe it is important to bring Smith’s work to Art Basel in Miami Beach because it deserves a more international audience,” said McCarthy. “While her Xerox works from 1965 have gotten a lot of attention (here in California and in Europe), we feel that showing these early resin pieces allows this new audience to see her ingenuity in materials and content and also how this work embodies her transition to what she is best known for, performative works.”

C L E A R I N G spans two distinct spaces separated by some 3,500 miles: a townhouse on Brussels’s luxurious Avenue Louise and a 5,000-square-foot former truck repair shop in New York’s Bushwick neighborhood. This cross-continental setup allows the gallery, led by founder and owner Olivier Babin and partner Harry Scrymgeour, to experiment with new conceptual and visual formats and gain wide exposure for its American artists in Brussels’s burgeoning contemporary art scene, and vice versa. “I have watched C L E A R I N G come onto the world stage with such force in just a few years with a dynamic program, including artists such as Harold Ancart, Korakrit Arunanondchai, and Calvin Marcus,” said Richard Chang, collector and founder of the Domus Collection, of the gallery, which is known for its support of young artists.

After showing at NADA for the past five years, C L E A R I N G will make its Art Basel in Miami Beach debut. (The gallery will also show at the fair’s Hong Kong edition for the first time next spring.) In the Nova sector, the gallery will present new works by longtime friends, and now studio neighbors, Ancart and Arunanondchai, produced specifically for the fair. “Every day, Ancart literally walks through Arunanondchai’s space to get to his,” says Babin. “Working together has always been on their minds.” The pairing of works will allude to the life cycle, from destruction to rebirth: Ancart’s oil stick on paper wall-works see images isolated and repeated in various sizes and color schemes against stark black backgrounds; the flames depicted in the work play off of Arunanondchai’s assemblage sculptures, which appear charred and include human and animal remains, technological waste, Southeast Asian crafts, and burnt denim. In the Public sector, C L E A R I N G will present a sculptural installation by Jean-Marie Appriou made of hundreds of pounds of cast metal. Titled MIRAGE, the psychedelic work mimics the transitory nature of a visual hallucination, with four gleaming camels perched atop their mirrored reflections.

Founded in upstate New York by former Metro Pictures bookkeeper Photios Giovanis, Callicoon Fine Arts (named for the town, Callicoon, where it first opened) relocated to Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2011 in an effort to bring more exposure to its artists. In the past year, Giovanis has organized solo shows by Sadie Benning, Bracha L. Ettinger, Nicholas Buffon, Thomas Kovachevich, and Ulrike Müller—the New York-based Austrian artist who has recently been announced as a participant in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. “Callicoon offered the most outstanding presentation last year at the NADA fair, so we are very eager to see their stand this year at ABMB,” said collector Shelley Fox Aarons. “Photi has a great eye, and the gallery has an excellent program with a varied but coherent roster of extremely interesting artists.”

Following Müller’s recent exhibitions at the gallery and at Vienna’s Museum of Modern Art, at Art Basel in Miami Beach, the gallery will present the artist’s vitreous enamel-on-steel plates and woven wool rugs, which engage modernist and feminist strategies beyond paint and canvas. “I am particularly drawn to the way Ulrike’s playful and nuanced rethinking of an assumed modernist program intersects with questions of representation and identity,” said the dealer. One partly abstract, partly recognizable rug, handwoven in a workshop in Oaxaca, depicts the silhouette of a cat on a geometric, pink and red pattern.

Since 1984, Waldir Simões de Assis Filho has exhibited some of the most significant Brazilian and Latin American artists in his eponymous space in Curitiba, Brazil, with an emphasis on the kinetic, concrete, and neo-concrete movements that blossomed during the 1950s and ’60s. Its roster includes historically significant figures, such as the modernist figurative painter Cícero Días and kinechromatic pioneer Abraham Palatnik, as well as contemporary hard-edge painter Elizabeth Jobim. According to Felipe Scovino, a critic and professor at the University of Rio De Janeiro who has curated exhibitions at Simões de Assis, the gallery “brings together the best of modern production in the Brazilian arts with the latest visual languages, without forgetting the didactic character that an art gallery should also have towards its audience.”

While frequently exhibiting at some of South America’s most important regional fairs, like ArtRio and SP-Arte, this year marks the Brazilian gallery’s debut at Art Basel in Miami Beach, which it eagerly awaits for its “quality and relevance,” as well as the opportunity to connect with the international art world. Simões de Assis plans to show historical paintings, reliefs, and mobiles by Carmelo Arden Quin, the Uruguayan artist who co-founded the Madí abstract art movement in Buenos Aires in 1946. A leading figure of the post-war Latin American avant-garde and mentee of the legendary Joaquín Torres-García, Quin is known for his geometrically patterned, irregularly shaped canvases and playful wood and metal mobiles.

Founded in Düsseldorf in 2013, Off Vendome was named for its location “off” much the art world’s radar, and some 300 miles away from Paris’s Place Vendôme. (The founder, Matt Moravec, was studying with Christopher Williams at the renowned Kunstakademie Düsseldorf at the time.) Last year, the gallery relocated to New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, opening its doors with a show by Lena Henke and Max Brand, and followed with strong solo exhibitions this year by emerging artists like Kyle Thurman and Talia Chetrit. “He’s not only a guide; he animates a coherent community of artists, collectors, curators, and friends,” said collector Jacques Verhaegen, who runs the modern and contemporary art nonprofit Cookie Butcher in Antwerp, of Moravec. “He’s not a classic dealer; he’s part of a group of people making art. Today we need more than ever gallerists who defend their artists.”

Off Vendome will present new works by Brooklyn-based artist Jeanette Mundt, who staged a well-received solo show of sculptures and paintings—featuring subject matter ranging from nude female figures to the Alps’ Matterhorn, some propped up with steel piping—at the gallery earlier this year. The works were arranged to mimic a domestic space, and the presentation at this year’s fair will follow this model. According to Moravec, “the booth for Miami will take on a similar theme, with sculptural paintings occupying the interior, while paintings fill the walls similar to the way they would fill a room in a house. All of the works play off each other in very considered way in order to create a narrative.”

For her inaugural exhibition last December, Zürich dealer Maria Bernheim featured seven contemporary artists’ diverse interpretations of kitsch, kicking off her mission to contextualize younger artists’ work within the greater art-historical narrative. A further ambition of the gallery is to bridge the gap between Switzerland’s French-speaking and German-speaking communities. Describing the up-and-coming space as “one of the best corners of Zürich,” Samuel Gross, head curator of the Swiss Institute in Rome, said that he “personally admires, in such a conservative town, a person who is capable of driving the people out of their comfort, and Maria Bernheim is definitely one of them.”

At Art Basel in Miami Beach, the gallery will show a new solo project by emerging Swiss artist Manuel Burgener, marking his debut in the U.S. Though the artist is well-known in Europe and South America, Bernheim hopes to gain wider recognition for the artist among American collectors. Last year, Burgener began researching how he might create sculptures by drawing with light; instead of infusing a space with light, as with a neon tube, he wanted to create a light the “can be looked at intensely, like a line in a space,” described Bernheim. The resulting works will be displayed alongside photogram works reclining against the wall.

Demie Kim