20 Artists to Watch at The Armory Show
As The Armory Show opens its 23rd edition, 210 galleries from 30 countries across the globe have converged on Manhattan’s west side. The fair’s 2017 installment boasts not only roomier aisles and bigger booths, but an increase to the number of galleries in the Presents section, which offers solo or duo artist presentations by young dealers, and a revitalized Focus section, bringing in new or rarely seen work curated by Jarrett Gregory.
With these changes come an abundance of artists on the rise. These range from young German photographer and Andreas Gursky protégé Louisa Clement, to first-time Venice Biennale participants Fiete Stolte, a conceptual artist based in Berlin, and Achraf Touloub, a multimedia artist from Morocco—to name just a few. Here, in no particular order, we highlight 20 of the fair’s most promising newcomers.
B. 1972, Comox, British Columbia • Lives and works in Berlin
Daniel Faria Gallery • Presents Section, Booth P9
Kadel Willborn • Galleries Section, Booth F2
Portrait of Shannon Bool in her Berlin studio by Wolfgang Stahr for Artsy.
Bool is an encyclopedia when it comes to the evolution of the female mannequin. She draws from this idiosyncratic knowledge when creating her spellbinding photograms and tapestries, which look at the fetishization of the female form.
One tapestry, which comes to The Armory Show straight from the Biennale de Montreal, depicts a mannequin “gazing” into a mirror. The many reflections of the plastic body, which stretch deep into the background of the composition, allude to the psychological pressures that often result from the idealized female bodies that fill boutiques and fashion ads.
“A running theme in my work is the exploration of the psychological and cultural depth of surface,” says Bool from her studio in the Treptow neighborhood of eastern Berlin. For the artist, this refers not only to the veneers of her female subjects, but also to the surfaces of historical paintings and architectural landmarks. She furthers this investigation by embedding into her work allusions to treatments of the female body by Modernist architect Adolf Loos, designer Charlotte Perriand, and painter Pablo Picasso. One recent tapestry references the courtesans who populate Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).
In a series of photograms also on view at The Armory Show, titled “Brides,” the artist covers the silhouettes of mannequins with patterns made from artifacts (African masks and fertility deities, for instance) similar to those that inspired Cubists and Surrealists. It was in their era that the first mannequins were made, a time when consumerism was geared toward women “by making not realistic forms but projective forms, so that a woman would enter into a fantasy to go shopping,” Bool explains. Not much has changed, and Bool’s work in turn reads as searingly relevant.
B. 1987, Bonn, Germany • Lives and works in Bonn and Düsseldorf
WENTRUP • Galleries Section, Booth 704
By zooming in on mundane objects with her iPhone camera, Clement captures close crops of the more surreal aspects of contemporary culture, including color and form. Her most recent photographs home in on the translucent limbs and contours of inanimate mannequins; but through Clement’s lens, they look more like slippery, free-thinking digital “Avatars,” as the series being shown at The Armory Show is titled. In this way, the young photographer, who studied under the acclaimed artist Andreas Gursky at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, cleverly nods to the virtual personas we construct through social media and online virtual worlds like Second Life. Berlin’s WENTRUP will also host its first solo show of Clement’s work this fall.
B. 1979, Wellington, New Zealand • Lives and works in New York
Anat Ebgi • Presents Section, Booth P26
An ideal fit for an art fair setting, Basher’s works toy with art’s role as commodity through installations that riff on the aesthetics and accoutrements of retail displays. His best-known paintings are sleek, minimal canvases filled with gradations of vertical stripes, though he’s also been known to create photorealistic visions of tranquil beach sunsets. The paintings double as backdrops in Basher’s installations, which often revolve around shelving units or plinths topped by consumer goods. Drawing attention to the psychology and visual strategies of consumer-driven merchandising, Basher challenges viewers to see the act of purchasing art as more than an impulse buy.
B. 1976, Altdöbern, Germany • Lives and works in Accra, Ghana
Mariane Ibrahim Gallery • Presents Section, Booth P2
German-Ghanaian artist Opoku employs African textile traditions to craft layered portraits of herself and others. This often involves screen-printing photographs onto fabric, then stitching them together or embroidering over their surfaces. In other series, she has created sculptural installations out of second-hand clothes, and photographic self-portraits in which her face is obscured behind various plants and vegetation—in each instance examining modes of identity and disguise. At Mariane Ibrahim’s Armory Show booth, she’ll show new works that feature screen-printed photographs of her siblings, woven together into textured narratives suggesting the human culture embedded within rich histories of pattern and cloth.
B. 1988, London • Lives and works in Los Angeles
M+B • Presents Section,Booth P6
Portrait of Nevine Mahmoud in her Los Angeles studio by Emily Berl for Artsy.
Two years ago, Mahmoud carved an erotic peach from a slab of stone in what would ultimately spark a daring new body of work for the young sculptor. This week, in her debut at The Armory Show, the series culminates in a collection of handcarved forms that reference elements of the human body—including a lone tongue, a pair of lips, and a single breast.
“They’re disembodied body parts; parts without a whole,” says Mahmoud from her studio in a converted garage in eastern Los Angeles. Inspired by the fragmented bodies in works by Louise Bourgeois and Alina Szapocznikow, and the unsettling quality that can accompany even their most erotic or attractive forms, she laces beautiful shapes with strange, dark undertones. Though sensual, the sculptures are fashioned in hard stone and often affixed with metal and mechanical parts. “I’m always hoping to find a form that sits somewhere between familiar and bodily—something that you would recognize as your own, but something that’s also alienated,” she says.
The sculptures on view have been carved from alabaster, sun-yellow calcite, and opaque pink and white marble, using a traditional process that’s a departure from the plaster casting technique she employed for her MFA work at the University of Southern California. A particularly fruitful stone-gathering mission once led her to a stone-carving studio in Northern California, where she found a mentor in an older female sculptor. “That’s kind of how I’ve learned everything that I know,” she says of this new chapter of work, the next iteration of which will be on view in her fall solo with Los Angeles gallery M+B.
B. 1984, Detroit • Lives and works in New York
Harmony Murphy Gallery • Focus Section, Booth F4
Disney villains, Pakistani pin-ups, and long lines of Arabic text: These are just a few of the subjects that populate Asghar’s canvases, which examine identity and the exoticization of the other. The Detroit-born artist, who is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent, draws from historical and pop-cultural imagery to create a visual map of her identity—one that mingles Eastern and Western social mores, beauty ideals, and mythologies. Tensions between the varying cultures emerge in the juxtaposition of the English, Arabic, and Urdu languages, as well as in the celebration and antagonization of the Eastern body in Pakistani beauty product ads and American cartoons, respectively.
B. 1984, Santa Monica, California • Lives and works in Los Angeles
Josh Lilley • Galleries Section, Booth 836
Work by Kathleen Ryan. Courtesy of Josh Lilley.
Work by Kathleen Ryan. Courtesy of Josh Lilley.
Ryan’s striking sculptures merge the imagery of Ancient Greece with modern-day materials. In recent work, clusters of luscious, Dionysian grapes are supersized, crafted from polished grey concrete and linked by stainless-steel chains. A laurel wreath is cast in shining pewter and placed carefully atop an old metal bucket. A giant clamshell evoking Botticelli’s Birth of Venus contains a cream-colored bowling ball in place of a pearl. Her work playfully elevates urban cast-offs, like the yellow stair railing on view at The Armory Show, which boldly reimagines its place in a grander pantheon of art history.
B. 1979, Rochester, New York • Lives and works in Tupper Lake, Adirondacks, New York
P.P.O.W • Galleries Section, Booth 909
With an MFA in poetry and a former day job as a librarian, Gocker has a way of imbuing his art with words and books. In his last solo exhibition at P.P.O.W, the artist debuted assemblages adorned with fragments of old books and maps he’d scavenged from a public library dumpster, along with a collection of drawings on the books’ yellowed pages. At The Armory Show, he presents large-scale wall works inspired by online word searches and children’s puzzle books. Forged from scraps he collected during a two-year stint as a librarian in Coney Island, they evoke not only a specific time in Gocker’s life, but also the nostalgic nature of discarded objects themselves.
B. 1986, Casablanca • Lives and works in Paris
Plan B • Galleries Section, Booth 202
Portrait of Achraf Touloub in Paris by Fred Lahache for Artsy.
The year 2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal one for Touloub, whose practice investigates the role of traditions in shaping the global society that we live in today. This week, the Moroccan, Paris-based artist shows work at Berlin- and Cluj-based gallery Plan B’s booth at The Armory Show; and in May, he’ll unveil a new project as part of the 57th Venice Biennale, “Viva Arte Viva,” curated by the Centre Pompidou’s Christine Macel.
At the fair, Plan B is showing three of Touloub’s sprawling, copper ink drawings. From afar, the dense compositions may recall objects that have historically communicated information through logic-based methods: text-laden scrolls, labyrinthine elevation maps, or data visualizations. As one approaches the intricate and visually stunning works, however, their undulating forms unravel into a purely graphic image that denies any communication of information in a traditional sense.
Touloub is interested in the ways in which our rapid technological progress has devalued the methods—whether written words, symbols, or images—by which we have communicated information in the modern era. And he wants to propose an alternative way in which images can insert themselves into this degradation of meaning.
In works like his “sight scenario – horizon” series on view at the fair, he proposes that we might stop communicating by directly representing various concepts and instead communicate on a sensory level. The works aren’t meant to be read or explained, but rather experienced.
Through that contemplative process, Touloub’s work considers the possibility that images and symbols provide alternative, nimble methods of expression—ones that, perhaps, aren’t as easily manipulated or misunderstood as language. As an artistic statement—or a method of dissecting today’s world—it’s an admirable effort.
B. 1980, Montevideo, Uruguay • Lives and works in Los Angeles
Gaudel de Stampa • Presents Section, Booth P33
Mulleady’s canvases teem with magicians, raiders, bruisers, and hedonists. The world she paints makes no bones about life’s pitfalls, from abuse to alcoholism, but is given levity through flourishes of humor. In one work, four women from different eras each wrestle with demons. One battles a monster; another, who the artist notes resembles Melania Trump, is chained under a T.V. While informed by numerous art-historical precedents, from Martin Kippenberger to Otto Dix, Mulleady’s work deals in decidedly contemporary issues, namely the isolation induced by technology and luxury. Museums and galleries have taken note: She just closed a solo at Freedman Fitzpatrick, and she’s prepping for another at Kunsthalle Bern, opening this May.
B. 1984, Los Angeles • Lives and works in Los Angeles
Honor Fraser • Galleries Section, Booth 715
Guthrie Lonergan, Babies’ First Steps, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Honor Fraser.
Installation view of Guthrie Lonergan, Internet Group Shot, 2006. Courtesy of the artist and Honor Fraser.
Lonergan uses the language and culture of the internet for his often humorous work, which frequently itself exists online. He’s transcribed the intro riff of HBO GO videos for guitar, which can now be found on ultimate-guitar.com. He created an M&M avatar—like the Microsoft Word paperclip of old—that spewed artspeak on the homepage of the Hammer Museum as part of the institution’s “Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only” exhibition last year. Among his videos on view at The Armory Show, Babies’ First Steps (2005) compiles digital home videos of that joyous moment, highlighting how an intimate milestone becomes consumable fodder for all to see when shared online.
B. 1977, Mexico City • Lives and works in Zürich
Instituto de Visión • Presents Section, Booth P8
Roldán was born in Mexico, and, despite a move to Switzerland in 2000, the politics and culture of Latin America still suffuse her practice. At The Armory Show, a selection of prints from the artist’s 2012 “Displacement” series is based on photographs from the catalogue of a 1970s exhibition that explored the representation of death in Mexico since antiquity. Roldán has fractured and rearranged images of stone sculptures, suggesting the various ways in which we break down history and rebuild it based on our individual influences. The artist moves between sculpture, performance, and photography, and often references language in her work—from printed text to inscrutable, neon-lit squiggles.
B. 1979, Berlin • Lives and works in Berlin
albertz benda • Platform Section, 13
Portrait of Fiete Stolte in his Berlin studio by Wolfgang Stahr for Artsy.
Stolte is off to a promising start in 2017. Just months before his work heads to the Venice Biennale, where it’s been tapped for Macel’s “Viva Arte Vida” exhibition, the German conceptual artist opened a solo at albertz benda’s project space, his first in the United States. Coinciding with that exhibition, the gallery is presenting a number of Stolte’s works at The Armory Show. This includes an interactive photo booth from which fairgoers can take away passport-sized portraits for $100 apiece.
The installation, Eye (2014–2017), is part of curator Eric Shiner’s Platform section, for which large-scale projects and installations have been dotted across the fair. No ordinary photo booth, Stolte’s machine is equipped with a carefully arranged camera and mirror that allow viewers to capture their own silhouettes as reflected onto their pupils. “The project stages the eye as a mirror to the world,” says Stolte from his studio in Berlin. As the artist affectionately recalls, the project was inspired some three years ago while looking into the eyes of his wife.
At the gallery’s booth, Stolte will also show two pieces from a series called “Smoke (after Still Life with Candle).” In them, the artist creates sinuous neon wall works that are modeled after smoke rising from blown-out candles, which he captured in an earlier series of polaroids. It’s a meditation on time, like much of the artist’s work, which subverts, manipulates, and transforms how humans conceive of and organize their world.
B. 1991, Miami • Lives and works in Berkeley, California
Jessica Silverman Gallery • Galleries Section, Booth 815
Woody Othello, I Can See You But I Don’t Hear You, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.
Woody Othello, Faceless Face Jug, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.
Othello creates cartoonish ceramic sculptures of mundane objects, but with a twist. The artist instills in his sculptural forms a human quality, such as in I Can See You But I Don’t Hear You (2016), a large ceramic telephone whose sunken form and wilted receiver make the object look weary and fragile. In other works, Othello has added surrealist additions to objects—a fingernail to a teapot spout, for instance, or a pair of ears to a jug. With characteristic wit and irreverence, the artist has also made more grotesque works, such as his wacky human figures that he calls “festers,” or his paintings composed of mashed potatoes and food coloring.
B. 1969, Toulouse, France • Lives and works in London
Arcade • Presents Section, Booth P24
Whether peering out from giant, tufted-wool wall hangings, painted ceramic sculptures, watercolors, or ink drawings, it’s hard to miss the mask-like faces in Achaintre’s work. Drawing from German Expressionism, primitivism, and post-war British sculpture—plus a score of other influences, spanning sci-fi to carnival masks to horror films—she’s developed a cast of works that are receiving growing acclaim. This momentum was cemented with her first major survey, at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, last fall. Don’t miss her fantastic textile wall sculptures at The Armory Show—like MadCap (2017), with a gaping hole for an eye—which are hand-tufted in wool, a material she’s mastered over more than a decade.
B. 1986, Paris • Lives and works in New York
DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM • Galleries Section, Booth 400
Nathalie Karg Gallery and DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM • Platform Section, 7
Following his first three solo shows in 2016, Gaudin is in the throes of another busy year. Fresh from opening his first institutional solo at Palais de Tokyo in February, he’ll present a large sculpture that propels itself back and forth along a 20-foot stretch as part of the Platform section at The Armory Show. Whether expressed in sprawling kinetic installations or warped metal wall sculptures, Gaudin’s work dissects our reliance on and fetishization of technology. Presented in a time when scientists and engineers are making great headway in expanding machine intelligence, this sculptor’s structures seem to have minds of their own.
Carroll / Fletcher • Presents Section, Booth P23
Portrait of Joshua Citarella in New York by Daniel Dorsa for Artsy.
In the year 2025, Citarella isn’t doing so well. Donald J. Trump has just rounded out his second term as president, and the world is a mess—half underwater, with basic services nonexistent, and with only the 1% able to afford efficient transportation that avoids the floods (via Uber-esque helicopters, naturally). Meanwhile, Citarella sits in a cramped micro-studio, surviving on potatoes and dried lentils while waiting for coveted freelance assignments to arrive via an ultra-high-speed internet connection.
Let’s be clear: This is only one possible future, the artist’s conjuring of what an “anarcho-capitalist” America might look like. It’s the subject of SWIM A Few Years From Now, a 12-by-8-foot photographic triptych that Citarella debuts with London’s Carroll / Fletcher at this year’s Armory Show.
The piece has the slickness of a dystopian IKEA catalog spread and recalls Josh Kline by way of Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham. It’s a departure in style for 30-year-old Citarella, whose altered photographic works have often focused on abstract textures or found images—and whose projects on the internet have involved hawking assisted-readymades on Etsy with collaborator Brad Troemel.
But SWIM’s canny blend of analog photography and digital trickery offers fresh potentials for the artist. He says the fictional future-self-portrait represents “the way I want to work” and envisions scaling up similar compositions into many-paneled installations.
Irreverent, and not without a dash of humor, the piece appeals in its immediate accessibility, despite being grounded in deep research and economic theory. Citarella talks exuberantly about the books that have inspired him, including Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2015).
“When the election happened,” he says, “every artist on earth took a moment to think, ‘How do I respond to this?’” Citarella’s own response is pointed, whipsmart, and sickly entertaining: a monstrous vision that feels all too plausible.
B. 1988, Salzburg • Lives and works in Vienna
Josh Lilley • Galleries Section, Booth 836
Sarah Pichlkostner, Kay calls me all the time in other words fly me to the moon. Courtesy of Josh Lilley.
Sarah Pichlkostner, Kay calls me all the time in other words fly me to the moon. Courtesy of Josh Lilley.
In an era where optimization and streamlining are the watchwords of industry, Pichlkostner’s work explores how these qualities manifest in materials themselves. This takes the form of an emotionally driven alchemy, with the artist creating minimalist sculptures out of quasi-industrial materials like blown glass, metal, and brick powder. Fresh from completing a two-year residency at De Ateliers in 2016, Pichlkostner presents sculptures at The Armory Show that continue to explore these forms and themes.
B. 1989, San Diego • Lives and works in Los Angeles
Bodega • Presents Section, Booth P28
Alexandra Noel, Demons Abreast, 2016. Courtesy of Bodega.
Noel, who is also a writer, creates compact paintings and sculptures that capture the sensuality and drama of domestic life. Painting with oil and enamel on panels that are often just over five inches wide, she portrays bedrooms and bathrooms like stage sets, with exacting detail, developing emotional weight through fanciful furnishings and decorative wallpaper, rather than human inhabitants. On view at The Armory Show with Bodega (where she had a solo show in fall 2016), other works zoom in on the interior of a dog’s mouth or the backside of a female nude, similarly conveying enigmatic moments of intimacy, like windows into a person’s private thoughts.
B. 1977, Chicago • Lives and works in New York
Galerie Joseph Tang • Presents Section, Booth P37
Reyes is an artist keenly attuned to the aesthetics of a room or a gallery. His contribution to an exhibition at Galerie Joseph Tang last November included hand-blown glass cylinders that protruded through small circular holes in the gallery windows. But his work also playfully collapses the idea that aesthetics and politics are separate. At London’s Arcadia Missa in 2015, Reyes drew from political pamphlets and posters made by Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, reviving the revolutionary words of the long-dead communist by laser-etching them on, among other materials, dried mushrooms. So far this year, Reyes’s work has appeared in group shows at Cave in Detroit and Praz-Delavallade in Paris.
An earlier version of this article that appeared both online and in print incorrectly described the sculptures by Sarah Pichlkostner on view at The Armory show as figurative and that they appear melted, morphed, or not quite finished. The sculptures on view actually continue her work with minimalism.