5 Artists on Our Radar This April
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, Garlic Boy, 2020. © Asuka Anastacia Ogawa. Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.
“Artists on Our Radar” is a monthly series produced collaboratively by Artsy’s editorial and curatorial teams. Utilizing our editors’ art expertise and our curatorial team’s unique insights and access to Artsy data, each month, we highlight five artists who have our attention. To make our selections, we’ve determined which artists made an impact this past month, whether through online exhibitions, art fairs, viewing rooms, or sale inquiries through Artsy.
B. 1989, Zurich. Lives and works in London.
Gina Fischli, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in 2018, has made polymer sculptures that resemble castle-shaped cakes; a giant fake-fur handbag; and paintings that look like Josef Albers color studies—but in glitter. She embraces her varied material interests, evidencing a confidence, freedom, and sense of playfulness that have garnered her fans in New York and across Western Europe.
On February 29th, 303 Gallery presented a small show of Fischli’s fantastical castle cakes in its viewing room. The artist chose polymer clay, she said, because of its likeness to fondant, and the similarities between baking and handling the material. With turrets that look like upside-down ice cream cones, windows that resemble black licorice swirls, and small white blobs that conjure marshmallows, the works are both deliciously tempting and, of course, wholly inedible.
David Zwirner’s “Platform: London” online viewing room is now exhibiting Fischli’s glitter-on-plywood paintings of domestic objects—an armchair, an ashtray, a champagne flute—from the gallery Soft Opening (works are priced from $5,000 to $8,000). Soft Opening offered only that it is “pleased with the results, both in terms of sales and audience feedback.” Later this year, Fischli will participate in the Geneva Biennial and enjoy her first institutional solo show at New York University’s 80WSE gallery.
With her precocious success, Fischli doesn’t seem worried about creating a signature style. “I’m maybe not a cohesive type of person,” she said.
B. 1980, New York. Lives and works in Johannesburg.
Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi’s first solo show was due to open this spring at the major Johannesburg gallery Stevenson. And while the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted a much-deserved moment for the artist, the show went on—via the gallery’s Instagram. Virtually, the South African artist was still able to debut dynamic new paintings and a video from her “Gymnasium” series.
In “Gymnasium,” the artist portrays the fraught realm of competitive women’s gymnastics. Yet with crisp, flat forms and a muted color palette, she deftly constructs scenes that are undeniably meditative. “I want my work to have a calming effect, even if the content of the work is about disrupting,” Nkosi explained in a virtual walkthrough of the show. She surfaces the tension between the sport’s white, patriarchal, propagandistic history and its present-day heroes—young women of color like Simone Biles. At the same time, Nkosi draws a compelling parallel between the worlds of gymnastics and contemporary art. “As much as the work is talking about race and the idea of performing identity, the work is also about painting and about finding its place in the history of imagemaking and of painting black people and people of color,” Nkosi said.
These works may be familiar to some: Paintings from the series were featured at two prominent 2019 art fairs, Art Basel in Miami Beach and Frieze New York (shown by Stevenson and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, respectively). And last year, Nkosi unveiled a site-specific mural at The Africa Center in New York and won the prestigious Tollman Award for the Visual Arts, an annual prize that recognizes promising young artists.
B. 1973, Urbana, Illinois. Lives and works in La Cienaga, New Mexico.
Scott Anderson’s new “Biotech” paintings were due to be featured in a solo show at New York’s Denny Dimin Gallery opening on May 8th. And with their explosive shocks of color, dreamlike imagery, and references to technology, memory, and artmaking, the works would have likely made a splash. While the COVID-19 crisis has delayed the physical show, collectors can still discover the new series on Artsy, where the abstract-meets-figurative works have struck a major chord with our audience. When our Curatorial team selected a work from “Biotech” to be included in Artsy’s Art Keeps Going campaign earlier this month, it quickly became the campaign’s most inquired-on artwork.
Anderson’s works are Surrealist at their core—interiors melt into figures that melt into Cubist-like geometries—and recall the uncanny portraits of Francis Bacon or the layered collages of Robert Rauschenberg. Though Anderson’s paintings may appear spontaneous in their emotive intensity, the artist creates each work after an original drawing and utilizes his deep mastery of technique and composition, honed through his decade-long career as a fine arts educator.
B. 1940, New York. Lives and works in Mountain Center, California.
For decades, Jessie Homer French has been a beloved member of Los Angeles’s artist circles, but remained largely unknown to the broader art world. Originally from New York, she began her artistic career in California, befriending many of the state’s artistic legends such as Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, and Peter Alexander in the 1960s and ’70s.
Three years ago, Esther Kim Varet—founder of the Seoul- and Los Angeles–based gallery Various Small Fires—noticed something strikingly similar when visiting the homes and studios of these leading artists: They each collected works by French. That year, the gallery debuted French’s first solo show, and later exhibited her paintings at prominent art fairs such as Art Basel in Hong Kong and, this past March, at Independent in New York. Her solo show with the gallery, titled “Chernobyl,” recently “opened” online. On Artsy, the growing demand for French’s paintings became evident this year: The number of inquiries on the artist’s work in 2020 has already surpassed the amount in 2019 more than five-fold.
An avid fisherwoman living in rural California, French dedicates her paintings to nature, rural life, and the impact of human activity on the environment. In compositions that are both witty and poignant, she combines the Los Angeles cityscape with smog-filled air, a nuclear power plant with roaming animals, and mountaintops covered with wind turbines. Her flat, faux-naïf aesthetic has also earned her comparison to the self-taught artist Henri Rousseau.
Since 1976, French has written the titles of her works directly onto the canvases. When asked about this unusual practice, she responded in a manner that encapsulated the matter-of-fact sensibility of her paintings. “I’m a regional narrative painter,” she said. “When I title [the painting], I tell you where it is, what it’s about, and what’s happening, because otherwise you might not know.”
B. 1988, Tokyo. Lives and works in New York and Los Angeles.
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa, Tomorrow, 2020. © Asuka Anastacia Ogawa. Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.
Asuka Anastacia Ogawa’s arresting canvases are dominated by cotton-candy pastels, enigmatic animals, and androgynous children who stare unabashedly out at the viewer. The Japanese-Brazilian artist has seen a swift rise in the three years since her first solo exhibition at Henry Taylor’s studio in Los Angeles in 2017. Earlier this month, Taylor’s longtime gallery Blum & Poe began representing Ogawa.
Ogawa’s work has sparked the interest of gallerists, collectors, and artists alike. In June 2019, her first New York solo show at Half Gallery sold out before it even opened, and recently, her piece Walking (2020) was snapped up for $48,000 in Art Basel in Hong Kong’s online viewing rooms. Artists Rashid Johhson and Mark Grotjahn are just two contemporary stalwarts who boast works by Ogawa in their collections.
Ogawa was born in Tokyo in 1988 and moved to rural Brazil when she was three. She went to high school in Sweden and earned her BFA from Central Saint Martins in London. Her symbolically hefty works are undoubtedly influenced by her global upbringing and intersectional identity, yet Ogawa offers the viewer the opportunity to create their own mythologies from the canvases.
Her new works are due to be featured in a forthcoming exhibition at Blum & Poe’s Tokyo outpost. In these paintings, the figures live in a dreamlike landscape where the sky can be mustard yellow, burnt orange, or lavender, and an alligator might curl up around your shoulders. While in works such as Tomorrow (2020) and Minha japoneguinha (2018), the protagonists appear to be at play—a figure jumps rope, a group of children toy with mirrors—there’s no discernable, straightforward narrative. Ogawa recently told Flaunt, “I welcome unfiltered inspiration that isn’t always understood or in need of being fully understood.”