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5 Artists on Our Radar in January 2022

“Artists on Our Radar” is a monthly series produced by the Artsy team. 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. 1983, Huainan, China. Lives and works in Paris.

Xie Lei emphasizes ambiguity and sensory details in his paintings to create environments for viewers to enter and explore. In Fathom (2020), recently exhibited in Xie’s solo show “Slumbers” at Meessen De Clercq in Brussels, a figure repositions the head of a sleeping man. Does the scene show a patient receiving medical care, or simply a spa guest enjoying a massage?
The quietness that pervades Xie’s oeuvre is also noteworthy. In Narcissus (2020), the mythical figure has fallen asleep beside the pond in which he will eventually encounter his reflection. A strand of drool drips from his mouth and into the body of water, foreshadowing Narcissus’s fate of drowning. In the painting, Xie renders the pond’s ripples with long brushstrokes punctuated by white flecks of paint, reflections of the stars in the night sky. It’s easy to imagine the cadence of Narcissus’s steady breathing in concert with the sound of crickets and other nocturnal animals that exist beyond the picture plane.
This month, Xie will present new works in the group show “Mouthed Echoes” at Lyles & King, and exhibit in a solo presentation at artgenève, presented by French gallery Semiose. He is also a 2022 artist in residence at the Boghossian Foundation in Brussels.
—Isabelle Sakelaris

B. 1997, London. Lives and works in London.

In her depictions of Black women and nonbinary people, London-based artist Miranda Forrester contemplates the historical representation of the female nude. Her intimate paintings exist, instead, as visual embodiments of the queer Black female gaze. Filled with warm hues and silky brushstrokes, Forrester’s works are currently on view in two group exhibitions in London: “At Peace” at Gillian Jason Gallery, and “Best of 2021” at SEAM Agency.
With a practice rooted in life drawing, Forrester creates tender portraits that allow her subjects’ soft forms to fully occupy the picture plane. “I want my paintings to showcase a very simplistic message of being allowed to exist, with space to move freely,” Forrester said in an interview with Made In Bed. “I want to give a sense of being still, at one with yourself.” Scored with fluid lines and delicate plant forms, Forrester’s layered compositions explore narratives of self-identity with vulnerability.
Her subjects appear relaxed as they share quiet moments, conveying a sense of comfort. Across Forrester’s poetic canvases where oil paint meets the smooth surface of transparent PVC, scenes of joy and tranquility unfold.
—Adeola Gay

B. 1983, Benoni, South Africa. Lives and works in Cape Town.

Mongezi Ncaphayi layers watercolor and ink to build feathery abstract images that suggest constellations, maps, and musical scores. Working between painting and printmaking, the Cape Town–based artist creates works that hint at psychological interiors and larger political realities.
In “Let the Waters Settle…,” his current solo show at SMAC Gallery, Ncaphayi continues his exploration of depth and color. In Tuesday turmoil (2021), for example, gem-toned geometric shapes and crimson dashes fleck a blue-washed background. And in I forget to Remember (2021), turquoise clouds and black lines drift across an orange backdrop.
“Let the Waters Settle…” is just the most recent accomplishment on Ncaphayi’s long list of accolades. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and artist residencies. Pursuing his childhood interest in art, Ncaphayi first studied at Ekurhuleni East College in his hometown of Benoni before attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (now the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University). In 2021, he participated in group presentations at numerous art fairs, including Art Brussels, 1-54 London, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, FNB Art Joburg, and Multiple Art Days. Ncaphayi’s work is also held in museum collections around the world, including the National Museum of African Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
—Leah Gallant

B. 1992, Moscow. Lives and works in London.

Yulia Iosilzon is gaining international attention for her fresh, fantastical paintings that confidently enmesh landscape, still life, and figuration. The artist’s otherworldly, frenzied scenes, often featuring anthropomorphized plantlife, draw on childhood memories and mythology.
In December, the London-based artist was in the spotlight at the inaugural edition of Art Antwerp, where her ethereal paintings of shapely mushrooms and other undulating vegetal motifs were the focus of a solo booth with De Brock Gallery. And earlier in 2021, her buoyant and bursting scenes with smiling faces peering through lush plants and playful fauna were the focus of delightful solo exhibitions at London’s Huxley-Parlour and Brooklyn’s Carvalho Park. Those shows also offered a glimpse into Iosilzon’s deft endeavors in ceramics: tender, glazed earthenware paintings with clever three-dimensional frames.
Iosilzon’s career momentum has been building since 2019, when she finished the MA program at the Royal College of Art in London and had her first solo show, also at Carvalho Park. In the time since, her work has been shown at various London galleries, including Guts Gallery, Hannah Barry Gallery, and Roman Road, as well as galleries in Seoul and Stockholm.
—Casey Lesser

B. 1957, Nanjing, China. Lives and works in Shanghai.

Yu Qiping’s handscroll paintings, with their delicate linework and soft palettes, can be mistaken for the fine craftsmanship of a Qing Dynasty artist. Though rather than painting court scenes, Yu depicts the lives of monks and commoners set in traditional Chinese courtyards.
In The Summer Cloud Brings the Rain Away (2021), one monk pauses to admire his surroundings, while another slumbers beside a full cup of tea and a vase of blossoms. Though quiet and serene, the work contains abundant detail: Both monks wear small, gold hoop earrings; calligraphy brushes have a touch of black ink on their tips; and an open book has vertical lines for writing.
This care and precision (which the artist partially attributes to being a Virgo) can be found throughout Yu’s work, including his more sprawling handscrolls—like Nice flower, nice wind and nice day (2021)—which give way to multiple narrative scenes. Other works, such as Intoxicated in aromatherapy (2021) and Let’s talk about ordinary (2021), leave more room for ambiguity. Though he has declined to reveal the exact stories behind his paintings, Yu has said that his characters are versions of himself.
Yu rounded out the final months of 2021 with a solo show, “Sorrowful Days and Nights,” at Cospace Contemporary Art Gallery in Shanghai, and also exhibited in the gallery’s group presentation at ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.
—Harley Wong
Artsy Editorial