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5 Artists on Our Radar This November

“Artists on Our Radar” is a monthly series produced collaboratively by Artsy’s Editorial and Curatorial teams. Utilizing our editors’ art expertise and our curators’ 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 through new gallery representation, exhibitions, auctions, art fairs, viewing rooms, or sale inquiries on Artsy.

B. 1979, Rochester, New York. Lives and works in New York.

In late October, the Guggenheim awarded Deana Lawson the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize, making her the first photographer ever to receive this prestigious award. Renowned for her carefully choreographed, disarmingly intimate portraits exploring identity and materiality throughout the African diaspora, Lawson has become a singular force in crafting an alternative visual language for the Black experience.
Despite their casual appearance, everything about Lawson’s photographs—the subject’s pose, the furniture, the wall color, the lighting—is meticulously considered in order to invoke discreet, almost metaphysical aspects of Black life. “I see photographs as visual testimonies,” she has said. “Familial relationships, sexuality, and life cycles are repeated motifs. I’m also interested in black aesthetics and how that is described in a picture.”
In addition to her most recent recognition from the Guggenheim, this year Lawson opened a new exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel. Featuring new photographs taken in Bahia, Brazil, along with recent works, the show was organized in collaboration with Fundação Bienal de São Paulo. Lawson is also a participant in the 34th São Paulo Bienal, which was postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.
This year was also due to welcome Lawson’s museum survey at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Co-organized with MoMA PS1, the exhibition is now postponed to fall 2021, indicating an exciting upcoming year for the artist. As part of the Hugo Boss Prize, Lawson will also be the subject of a solo show at the Guggenheim that spring.
Her work has been exhibited at major international institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the KIT Museum in Düsseldorf, Germany. Lawson was also featured in the Whitney Biennial in 2017. Along with art-world acclaim, Lawson has had an indelible impact on popular culture, photographing the cover art for musician Blood Orange’s 2016 record Freetown Sound and inspiring director Melina Matsouaks as she developed the 2019 feature film “Queen & Slim.”
—Shannon Lee

B. 1939, El Paso, Texas. Lives and works in New York.

At age 81, Mexican-American artist Virginia Jaramillo is finally getting due recognition for her six-decade-long career. “It would’ve been nice if this moment had come earlier, but, hey, it came,” Jaramillo said in a recent profile in the New York Times. This past September, the artist opened a new exhibition at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, billed as her first solo museum show, which features eight of her breakthrough curvilinear paintings created from 1969 to 1974. Concurrent with the Menil show, Jaramillo’s third solo exhibition with Hales Gallery in New York opened in September. That exhibition, titled “Conflux,” features 10 of Jaramillo’s paintings and paper works, spanning from 1970 to the early 1980s.
A departure from her signature line paintings on flat, saturated backgrounds––like those exhibited at the Menil Collection––the paintings shown in “Conflux” depict gradients of color created by layering washes of oil paint onto linen canvas. Jaramillo often tests the physical limits of medium and form in her work, using the thinnest possible paint or the most delicate fibers to construct a piece, or by painting impossibly uniform and razor-thin lines. Above all, what unifies Jaramillo’s practice is a curiosity and experimentation in materiality, and the ability to distill an idea or image down to its simplest form, while retaining significance.
During the month of September when her two exhibitions opened, Jaramillo’s artist page on Artsy saw a 46,600% increase in monthly visitors from search, and an 800% increase in artwork inquiries on the platform. An established artist, her work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hammer Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum; it also sits in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Menil Collection, the Peréz Art Museum Miami, and Museo Rufino Tamayo.
—Juliana Lopez

B. 1983, Addis Ababa. Lives and works in New York.

In late October, Galerie Lelong & Co. announced its representation of Tariku Shiferaw. The Ethiopian-American artist creates densely layered, geometric works that explore the structures and hierarchies present in both painting and society. He focuses on the implications of “mark-making” and has said that it “reveals the thinker behind the gesture—an evidence of prior markings of ideas and self onto the space.” By creating works that stack thick horizontal marks, rendered in spray paint, acrylic, and at times composed of wood, Shiferaw interrogates the act of painting itself.
Shiferaw further deconstructs the medium by incorporating ready-made objects, such as wooden crates and sweatshirts, into his installations. In works like Money (Cardi B) (2018), Shiferaw’s signature stacked marks are found on the object itself—a wooden crate—which he then adorns with spray painted marks and price tags.
Much of Shiferaw’s works pays homage to Black musicians; contemporary titans of rap appear alongside the icons of jazz, blues, and R&B in the titles of his works. King Kunta (Kendrick Lamar) (2016) uses plastic as its canvas; bright blue spray-painted marks line the piece, which falls down the wall, calling to mind ’s draped canvases.
Since earning his MFA from Parsons in 2015, Shiferaw has steadily gained recognition. In the last couple of years, he has mounted solo shows in London at Addis Fine Art, as well as in Miami at the Untitled Art Fair and at Brooklyn’s Anthony Philip Fine Art and Cathouse Proper galleries. Shiferaw participated in the 2017 Whitney Biennial as part of the Occupy Museums’ Debtfair project and was also in the independent study program at the institution. He is currently a participant of Open Sessions at the Drawing Center and artist in residence at the LES Studio Program. He will have his first solo exhibition with Galerie Lelong next spring.
—Sarah Dotson

B. 1994, the Bronx. Lives and works in the Bronx.

Multimedia artist Tiffany Alfonseca received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts just this year, but her work is already in the collection of the Pérez Art Museum Miami and Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys’s Dean Art Collection. Most recently, Alfonseca was featured in a two-person show, “Como Nosotros Somos,” with fellow Afro-Dominican American artist at New Image Gallery. By the end of the exhibition’s run in October, inquiries on Artsy for Alfonseca’s work had increased by more than 600%.
Alfonseca often places her dark-skinned figures against pastel pink and baby-blue backdrops to create a visual language uniquely her own, as seen in What A Real Barbie Looks Like and The Black Woman (both 2018). The color palettes and compositions of Alfonseca’s scenes are nostalgic of her upbringing surrounded by plants and her mother’s inclination towards bold colors. While considering W.E.B. DuBois’s theory of double consciousness, Alfonseca’s oeuvre celebrates Black and Afro-Latinx diasporic people. In I Hope My Blackness Offends You (2018), for example, Alfonseca speaks to the colorism and anti-Blackness she’s witnessed in the Latinx community, and responds defiantly and confidently.
For her “In Quarantine” series, Alfonseca pivoted away from large-scale paintings to more intimate drawings of her family and friends, including figurative artist and curator Larry Ossei-Mensah. With particular attention dedicated to tonal value in rendering skin and hair, Alfonseca’s figures are at once captivating and self-possessed.
—Harley Wong

B. 1986, Cornwall, Vermont. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Molly Greene, Armed Response, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Molly Greene, Armed Response, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Over the past year or so, Molly A Greene’s eerily enticing paintings of hair and houseplants have quickly swept across the art world. Her visions of Kelly green fronds that resemble carefully parted coifs and shiny, undulating braids, have become the stars of group exhibitions at galleries including Unit London, Arsenal Contemporary, The Hole, and 0-0 LA. And now, Greene is having her first solo show at Kapp Kapp in Philadelphia.
Titled “Other Gardens,” the show is made up of works that Greene made during quarantine; they’re emblematic of her approach to imparting strange, bodily energy onto slick plants, blooms, and hair.
Molly Greene, Bridge, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Molly Greene, Bridge, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Molly Greene, The Twins, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Molly Greene, The Twins, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Brown hair is a frequent subject in her work, largely due to its familiarity. “Most of the people I love are covered in brown hair,” Greene said in an interview for It’s Nice That last year. “I touch, braid, tie up and take down my own hair many times a day. And so I became interested in the idea of making this deeply familiar material seem alien or strange, and also what would happen to my perception of it or myself during that process of defamiliarization.” She also taps into hair’s feminine associations, and its liminal role as a part of the body that also remains separate.
Molly Greene, Between Blooms Super, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Molly Greene, Between Blooms Super, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Kapp Kapp, Philadelphia.

Though her works resonate with the current wave of contemporary Surrealism, Greene is working in an absurdist mode that’s distinctly her own. With three masters degrees and a PhD under her belt—in Environmental Science and American Studies, all from Yale—she turns to art as a way to process and visualize notions of gender, the environment, animal studies, and naturalness more broadly. She also draws on posthumanist science fiction and literary greats like Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Mary Shelley.
“In terms of my own work,” Greene said in an interview with Amadeus earlier this year, “I hope that I’m starting to play in that space between conventional ideas of what a human should be and what a human could be.” Greene will have a solo show with Ramp Gallery, London, in January 2021.
—Casey Lesser
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