5 Artists on Our Radar in September 2021
“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. 1980, Aalesund, Norway. Lives and works in Lisbon.
Audun Alvestad’s new show “Tan Lines,” opening September 3rd at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in London, is a dreamlike exploration of summer. Building on his previous work—characterized by an almost voyeuristic take on figures engaged in mundane, often domestic situations—Alvestad’s new paintings convey what it feels like to bask and play under the sun.
The works of “Tan Lines” depict expansive beaches and water parks, yet they’re rendered with a keen eye for intimacy, movement, and the relationship between bodies. Like Alvestad’s previous work, these paintings explore the tension between loneliness and community. Through a soothing color palette and surreal scenarios, the artist places the viewer in dialogue with the works; we’re left to wonder if the scenes on view are drawn from memory, reality, or a dream. And like much of Alvestad’s work, the answer is all three.
Alvestad received his MFA from the Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen in 2016 and has since participated in a number of group and solo exhibitions. Notable solo shows include “Here comes a regular” at QB Gallery in Oslo (2021); “Inadequate, Just Inadequate,” at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in Berlin (2020); and “It’s my Party and I’ll Cry If I Want to,” at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in London (2019). In 2017, Alvestad was awarded a three-year working grant for young artists by the Arts Council of Norway.
B. 1984, Transylvania, Romania. Lives and works in Copenhagen.
In her first solo exhibition with Galleri Nicolai Wallner, “Irregulars. Beyond the Current,” which opened on August 20th, Copenhagen-based artist Kinga Bartis presents a new body of work questioning the dichotomies between the self and the other, the individual and the collective, and the human and the natural worlds.
Working in monochrome, Bartis blurs the boundaries between her figures and their surroundings. Often depicted awash in swirling red waves, her figures’ faces are contemplative—even serene. Rather than fighting to keep themselves afloat, they seem to be held up by the waters. At once powerful and nurturing, the waves create—as Bartis puts it, borrowing from critical theorist Homi K. Bhabha—a “third space,” where the dissolution of binaries is possible. This notion is reinforced by the hybrid painting-drawing method Bartis employs, using charcoal, pencil, and oil together on canvas to soften the edges between forms and unify her compositions.
B. Los Angeles. Lives and works in Brooklyn.
Justin Yoon’s radiant, sunset-hued compositions embody an American fantasy for queer Korean Americans. His Day-Glo universe features three recurring characters: Blue Dream, a Tom of Finland–esque, Speedo-clad muscleman; Marge, a long-haired, glamorous woman; and Five Pounds, a fluffy white dog. Whether together or alone, the three are often seen on the beach or at a nightclub, skin glistening and surrounded by muscle cars and indulging in fast food. Yoon’s works are romantic amalgamations of his experiences living in Seoul, where he was raised, and Los Angeles, where he was born.
Yoon received a BFA in illustration from Parsons in 2014 and has since appeared in a number of group shows between New York and Los Angeles. Currently, three of Yoon’s works are featured in “It’s Much Louder Than Before,” a group exhibition at Los Angeles’s Anat Ebgi that explores the communities and aesthetics of queer nightlife. Yoon’s works were also recently included in a group show earlier this summer at New York’s Shelter.
B. 1974, Jackson, Mississippi. Lives and works in New York.
Felandus Thames bestows basketball hoops, hairbrushes, and plastic beads with rich conceptual narratives around race and gender. With grace and, at times, humor, the artist transforms everyday objects into vital political entities that open discussions.
One particularly striking series conveys the words of cultural icons through the bristles of brushes made for Afro-textured hair. One piece spells out the Richard Pryor quote “You go down there looking for Justice, that’s what you find: just us”; another relates the James Brown song “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud.” In another body of work, Thames strings together hair beads and hangs them side by side like a curtain, resulting in commanding portraits. Through his fresh takes on the ready-made, Thames seeks, according to his artist statement, to create “vessels able to contain beauty and trauma at an equilibrium” and “work that functions in the way that Black music is endowed by, but not the sum of, Black joy, pain, and suffering.”
A 2010 grad from Yale’s painting and printmaking MFA program, Thames will be featured in numerous group shows this fall, including “Literary Muse” at UTA Artist Space, curated by Myrtis Bedolla; “Somethin’ to Say” at Galerie Myrtis, which Thames also co-curated; and the online show “Know Your Place: An examination of America’s Caste System,” curated by fellow artist Alfred Conteh. He will also be featured in the 2022 exhibition “The Afro‐Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined,” presented by Galerie Myrtis at the Venice Biennale. Thames’s work has also been shown at the Mississippi Museum of Art, Real Art Ways, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Kravets Wehby Gallery, Tilton Gallery, the International Print Center New York, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia, among other esteemed museums and galleries.
B. 1987, New York. Lives and works in New York.
Working between photography, sculpture, painting, and film, Antonia Kuo uses a wide range of chemical processes to craft artworks that recall austere minimalist sculpture as much as they do post-industrial waste. Kuo’s alchemical works—incorporating cast urethane, UV-printed micrographs, slumped glass, ceramic, and steel—shimmer like oil slicks and crack like scaly skin.
In Sieve (in gold) and Thicket (both 2021), which are both chemigrams—paintings made with chemicals on light-sensitive paper—Kuo uses the experimental technique to craft images that are atmospheric and otherworldly. Her work has the feeling of material pushed to the limits of transformation; the artist has said that she is more invested in the process of experimentation than the finished product.
Kuo graduated from Yale in 2018 with an MFA in painting, and has exhibited work widely, including at MoMA PS1, Eyebeam, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, the last of which holds her work in its permanent collection. She has participated in a number of prestigious artist residencies and fellowships, including the Macdowell Colony, MASS MoCA, Pilchuck Glass School, and the Banff Centre.