The Artists on Our Radar in 2021


5 Artists on Our Radar in June 2021

Artsy Curatorial and Artsy Editorial
Jun 1, 2021 8:51PM

“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.

Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola

B. 1991, Columbia, Missouri. Lives and works in New York.

In his recent solo exhibition “by Fire by Force” at False Flag in Long Island City, Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola presented a new series of all-black durag paintings. These action paintings consist of several durags stretched across wood frames, layered, tied, and twisted into abstract compositions that recall the recycled bottle-cap wall hangings by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. Their titles are derived from Yoruba orisha—deities that straddle the mortal and celestial realm—and are thematically rooted in the practice of ancient and contemporary rituals. Akinbola’s work is currently featured in “Market,” his first solo show with Night Gallery in Los Angeles.


Akinbola frequently uses durags as a painterly medium. As a first-generation American who grew up between Missouri and Nigeria, Akinbola has grappled with differing cultural perceptions of Blackness, and through his work he seeks to reconcile these two parts of his identity. “In the conversation about Black art the categories are either indigenous / tribal / ‘primitive’ art as they call it, or contemporary African art, and then you have African American art,” Akinbola has said. “The art world really separates those spaces. But I feel like in my practice I’m really trying to bring all of that together.”

In addition to his notable durag works, Akinbola makes sculptures out of found objects, wood, palm oil, and Torino brushes, which feature prominently in his “Chopped and Screwed” series. The artist is also currently featured in the group show “New York Rising,” hosted by one and Artsy.

—Cornelia Smith

Ivana de Vivanco

B. 1989, Lisbon. Lives and works in Leipzig, Germany.

The carnivalesque images of Chilean Peruvian painter Ivana de Vivanco are tinged with both humor and darkness. In Arcángel Neón (2020), an angel-like figure in bright orange tights holds a glowing neon rod; in Headset (2021), the subject’s grin dangles, like that of a Cheshire cat, below the canvas. These imagined scenes are grounded in the contemporary—as indicated by the sneakers, tan lines, and puffer jackets—but they have the stillness and posed quality that characterizes much classical painting. De Vivanco is interested in the aesthetics of Latin American Baroque, which she has characterized as “probably the most colorful and painful Baroque of all since the wound of colonization has remained inscribed in it.” With the saturated color palette of an ’80s workout video, her paintings seamlessly blend clownish antics with a sense of historical weight.

De Vivanco grew up in Santiago, Chile, where she studied fine arts at the University of Chile in Santiago; she later revisited the subject at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig. A recipient of the prestigious DAAD grant, de Vivanco has also been featured in the Thames & Hudson book 100 Painters of Tomorrow (2014). Her work is currently on view in “Error Explanation,” a group show at Berlin’s Galerie Kornfeld.

—Leah Gallant

Melanie Daniel

B. 1972, British Columbia, Canada. Lives and works in British Columbia.

The artist Melanie Daniel highlights the fraught relationship between the environment and humans in “No Man’s Land,” a dystopic new body of work on view at Asya Geisberg Gallery through June 26th. Daniel creates futuristic scenarios in which human beings struggle to recover their past lives after a major climate disaster. Figures are languid in acid-colored forests; trees melt and transform into tube socks; limbs turn translucent as if the subjects are dissolving into the earth. The artist’s colorful post-nuclear vignettes often feature women as the main characters. “I’m especially drawn to the women, mothers, sisters, friends who sacrificed so much to preserve life’s momentum, who were creative and resourceful, when all the usual models were absent,” Daniel has said.

Thanks to vibrating patterns and skewed perspectives, Daniel’s canvases are flooded with tension, yet at the same time convey glimmering signs of hope that celebrate women’s beguiling resistance. In The Journal (2021) a hermetically sealed woman captures her feelings; in Tube Sock Sexy (2021), a smiling woman stretches in a yoga-like pose.

Daniel received her BFA and MFA from Bezalel Academy in Israel 1999 and 2006, respectively. Since 2014, she has been showing with the Israel-based Chelouche Gallery, where she has had multiple solo and group shows. In 2021, Daniels will have a solo show at the University of British Columbia. Her work was also recently featured in the group exhibition in “Fairyland” at Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami, where she also had a fall 2020 solo show, titled “After the Flood.”

—Kaylie Felsberg

Sofia Mitsola

B. 1992, Thessaloniki, Greece. Lives and works in London.

In Sofia Mitsola’s latest magnetic figurative paintings and drawings, we follow a pair of mermaid-esque characters named Aqua and Marina as they swim up to the surface of the canvas and gaze at us, knowingly turning us into unsuspecting yet unreluctant spectators. These works, inspired by a pseudo-myth that Mitsola wrote titled “Aquamarina,” debuted at Art Basel in Hong Kong in May in a showcase with Pilar Corrias, the tastemaking gallery that has been showing the artist since 2019 and now represents her. Mitsola’s subjects, with their soft, nude forms, bright eyes, and flowing hair, assert strength and pride, flaunting their larger-than-life bodies unabashedly. These works continue Mitsola’s practice of foregrounding women who own their bodies and sexualities, while toying with the dichotomy of watching and being watched.

A 2018 painting MFA grad from Slade School of Fine Art, Mitsola first painted women inspired by ancient Greek and Egyptian goddesses and beings. “In my mind, my characters are like sphinxes and sirens, seductive creatures that use their sexuality as their power to get to their actual purpose, which is to strangle and devour,” Mitsola told Elephant in June 2019. In these recent works, it’s clear the artist has moved on to crafting her own mythical characters and imbuing them with confidence and wisdom that flows freely across her canvases and drawings, unrestricted by narrative, color, and form.

The young Greek-born artist has quickly become a known quantity in the art world. She’s already had two solo shows with Pilar Corrias, as well as a solo at Jerwood Space, and her works are included in prominent collections in China and the U.K., including the X Museum, the K11 Art Foundation, the Zabludowicz Collection, and the Jerwood Collection. Mitsola will open her next solo show with Pilar Corrias in London this September.

—Casey Lesser

Tahnee Lonsdale

B. 1982, Rogate, England. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Tahnee Lonsdale has been very busy this spring. On the heels of a splashy solo debut in Asia at Hong Kong’s Mine Project, Lonsdale turned heads at Frieze New York in May, exhibiting with Night Gallery. And just last week, she opened a new solo show, “Under The Shell,” at Cob in London, where she’s also featured in a group show at PM/AM. With yet another solo exhibition at Night Gallery slated for 2022, calling this Lonsdale’s “breakout moment” just doesn’t seem to suffice.

Lonsdale creates rich, jewel-toned color fields bisected by elongated figures with sweeping limbs that appear to embrace, wrestle, and offer comfort—at times, all in the space of one painting. A graduate of London’s Byam Shaw School of Art, Lonsdale represents a new guard of emerging artists fusing figurative painting with principles of abstraction, calling to mind the work of rising artists like Christina Quarles, Melike Kara, and Genesis Tramaine.

Water is a recurring motif in Lonsdale’s work, representing a dual force of calm and danger. Suspended in liquid, the figures populating her canvas oscillate between inhabiting a blissful, womblike space, or a stifling, sinister environment.

—Jordan Huelskamp

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Correction: A previous version of this article included an incorrect spelling of the gallery Mine Project.