5 Artists on Our Radar in April 2021
“Artists on Our Radar” is a monthly series produced collaboratively by Artsy’s Editorial and Curatorial teams. Utilizing our art expertise 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 through new gallery representation, exhibitions, auctions, art fairs, or fresh works on Artsy.
B. 1989, New York. Lives and works in New York.
With a haunting yet charming painting sensibility, Brooklyn-based artist Grace Metzler brings together the drama, absurdity, and magic of contemporary life. Artwork titles such as Vacation Bible School for Babies (2021), First Quarantine Haircut (2020), Covid Twister (2020), and Patty Cake with the Devil (2019) make it clear that Metzler’s dark sense of humor is uniquely her own. From tiny paintings to monumental canvases, she lures in viewers with her painterly aesthetic and delightful details, like a stroke of the paintbrush that becomes a perfectly crisp white pair of socks or a background figure seen through a window who is unexplainably holding up a string telephone to its ear.
In 2017, Metzler received her MFA from Hunter College and was awarded the prestigious Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. This year, her career is reaching new milestones. This April, her work will be featured in the trendsetting group show “Contemporary Domesticity” at Taymour Grahne Projects, alongside in-demand emerging artists such as Gina Beavers, Asif Hoque, Raelis Vasquez, and Madelynn Mae Green. Later this year, she’ll have her first solo exhibition with Yossi Milo Gallery.
B. 1995, Mexico City. Lives and works in Mexico City.
Although María Fragoso is one of several rising contemporary artists creating surrealistic figurative paintings, the 25-year-old is a standout. Her lush, captivating paintings, six of which are currently on view in a solo show at 1969 Gallery in New York, feature uncanny female figures navigating the desire for human connection and explore Fragoso’s reflections on her Mexican heritage.
“A duality that has always pervaded Mexican culture and everyday life is the complicated relationship of struggle and joy,” Fragoso wrote in a recent essay published by the Taubman Museum of Art. “I always think about it as an important duality in my paintings. I try to convey this bond of celebration and tragedy by portraying scenes of lustfulness and hedonism in bright and fiery colors while also including some disturbing elements that question the coherence of the seemingly familiar.”
Fragoso’s recent paintings invite us into ritualistic ceremonies rife with symbolism; women spew streams of water while huddled around fecund fruit, flowers, and seashells, or wade through green oceans filled with fluttering fish. Her drawings, also on view at 1969 Gallery, home in on slices of these fantastical worlds, in soft gradations of red colored pencil. Fragoso shines in her ability to leave us feeling satisfied with ambiguity: Her personal, utterly enigmatic explorations into the subconscious are so conceptually and visually rich that any sort of explanation feels extraneous.
Fragoso earned a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2019 and was a resident of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture that summer. Her works have also been shown with Everyday Gallery in Antwerp, and she was featured in a group show curated by artist Vaughn Spann at Half Gallery in New York earlier this year.
B. 1974, Manila, Philippines. Lives and works in Oakland, California.
This April, Stephanie Syjuco’s activist-driven practice is showcased in two major exhibitions. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, her three-part installation Vanishing Point (Overlay) brings symbols of white supremacy into focus. The exhibition includes a presentation of fictional flags from film and television that depict non-Western countries as terrorist, backwards, and unstable, as well as a display of 19th-century works from the museum’s own collection that the artist drapes with fabric and assigns the following labels: Founding Father, Collaborator, Confederate, Sympathizer, and Secessionist.
For her current show “Native Resolution” at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, Syjuco spent hundreds of hours culling the archives of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Anthropology in Washington, D.C., to find visual records of the Philippines and Filipinos in the official American archive. Through photographic collage and visual metaphors, Syjuco uncovers the inherent colonialism, exclusion, and incompleteness of these documents.
Syjuco’s research-focused practice is multifaceted in every sense, spanning social practice, pedagogy, digital media, new technology, craft, photography, sculpture, video, and installation, as well as public, academic, and art-world spaces.
“If we were to look at the complexity of our contemporary culture, our political moment, our lived realities,” the critically acclaimed artist shared with Art21 in her segment of the documentary series Art in the Twenty-First Century in 2018, “I want my work to be as complicated as well—that there isn’t just one way to look at it, that depending on your perspective, you’ll see it a different way.”
B. 1984, Palo Alto, California. Lives and works in New York.
Reality and fantasy collide in Elizabeth Glaessner’s jewel-toned paintings. Laden with amorphous figures and luminous colors, Glaessner creates a surreal dystopia, exploring critical themes such as memory, ritual, and gender representation.
Characterized by unique compositions and recurring gender-fluid figures, Glaessner’s paintings are rooted in mythology and escapism. Inspired by the works of Louise Bourgeois and Dorothea Tanning, her narratives unfold within a fictional world, free from humanity and its power structures, depicting anything from satyrs to tall, bare trees.
Guided by the transformative power of everyday objects, Glaessner’s practice is idiosyncratic. Her singular style is often influenced by her use of multiple mediums. The artist combines acrylics, oils, and water-dispersed pigments to create alluring saturated colors. Her recent works incorporate hues of seafoam green and burnt orange to create an aura that’s both captivating and eerie.
B. 1985, Shanghai. Lives and works in New York and Shanghai.
While Miao Ying is not new to our radar, her work seems particularly relevant at this moment in time, especially now as many of our days are spent mostly online, and the craze around NFTs is inescapable.
Born in Shanghai and now working primarily in New York, Miao’s work broadly examines the effects of internet technology on contemporary culture. The artist gained critical attention in 2016 for her online exhibition with the New Museum titled “Chinternet Plus,” in which she created a satirical website for Internet Plus, the Chinese government’s five-year strategy intended to modernize traditional industries with the introduction of buzzy technology, such as cloud computing and big data.
Present throughout Miao’s work is her use of humor to approach heavier topics, including political censorship, the pervasiveness of internet culture, and the ease by which information can be manipulated online. In a 2018 solo exhibition at M+ Museum, Miao playfully presented the idea of China’s firewall as a “digital detox.” The work parodies contemporary lifestyle marketing, framing the internet restrictions as a kind of wellness retreat in which users can find respite from the use of popularized, mainstream websites like Facebook and Google.
More recently, Miao’s work was exhibited as part of the X Museum’s inaugural exhibition and triennial “How Do We Begin?” and is currently on view with König Gallery as part of its appropriately titled group show “The Artist is Online.”