5 Artists on Our Radar in September 2022
“Artists on Our Radar” is a monthly series produced by the Artsy team. Utilizing our art expertise and access to Artsy data, 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. 1993, Lagos, Nigeria. Lives and works in Lagos.
Frighteningly familiar, Damilola Onosowobo Marcus’s paintings evoke the intimacy experienced when flipping through an old analog photo album. Equally figurative as they are abstract, Marcus’s paintings prioritize the feeling of memories rather than representational likeness of an event.
In the group show “Girls Run the World” at Eclectica Contemporary in Cape Town, on view through September 30th, Marcus renders intimate encounters of people experiencing daily life through soft, sweeping brushstrokes and a muted pastel palette. These minor moments feature people laughing, a family at church, and a young woman getting her hair braided. Marcus has described herself as an observer of reality, “painting images that you’re not supposed to paint,” as she stated in an interview with Affinity Art Gallery. In this way, her rich paintings invite us to peek into the imagined lives of others that are both foreign and shockingly recognizable.
Marcus’s expressive paintings stem from a self-taught practice. The artist received her BA in architecture and a MSc in environmental design from the University of Lagos. She is perhaps best known for her rich design practice and for co-founding Dá Design Studio, with which her work was featured in the 2019 Venice Design Exhibition. Marcus’s recent foray into figurative painting has been met with great acclaim. She has since exhibited at Affinity Art Gallery in Lagos and HOFA Gallery in London.
B. 1989, Lahore, Pakistan. Lives and works in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
In Maha Ahmed’s paintings, fantastical hybrid creatures coexist peacefully in utopian landscapes. The Pakistani miniature artist draws inspiration from Persian and Mughal manuscripts, as well as traditional Japanese landscape painting techniques. In her current solo show “The Spaces Between” at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in London, on view through September 17th, Ahmed weaves personal narrative into her works, specifically her journey of self-discovery as a new mother.
Rendered in gouache on coffee-stained paper, Unfolding of dreams (2022) captures feelings of isolation and trepidation. In the work, a majestic bird hovers over the edge of a rough yet fertile landscape while a reptilian creature looks on with a predatory gaze. But in Steeper hill to climb (2022), two adult birds and a baby bird tenderly huddle together on the pinnacle of a jagged mountain as if on top of the world. With each painting depicting either a lone bird, a pair, or a flock, Ahmed poignantly creates narrative scenes that meditate on a transformative period in her life.
Ahmed earned an MA in fine art at Central Saint Martins in London, and a BFA in miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore. Over the years, she has participated in solo and group exhibitions at galleries including Display Gallery and Asia House in London, as well as Istanbul Contemporary.
B. 1997, Lagos, Nigeria. Lives and works in London, England.
As a teenager, Adeolu Osibodu turned to photography to capture moods and express himself without the need for language. Accordingly, his uncanny images are deeply felt but resistant to interpretation. Digitally manipulated, Osibodu’s subjects appear to encounter alternate versions of themselves, or even the divine.
In Sometimes you forget how it feels (2020), a woman standing thigh-deep in water peers out from within a crowd of doubles who elegantly and fluidly move as if dancing or performing a ritual. Meanwhile, in Even when the thrill is gone. (2021), three people swim towards a levitating figure who appears to ascend beside a celestial beam of light. These works are on view through September 25th in “WHY NOT BOTH?,” a two-person exhibition with mixed-media artist Maurice Mbikayi at ARTCO Gallery in Aachen, Germany.
It’s not just surreal elements that make Osibodu’s photographs so striking, but also the artist’s careful attention to composition. He plays with juxtapositions—tall, upright bodies against sprawling horizons; light and shadow; soft-focus foregrounds and crisp backgrounds—to draw the eye in.
A self-taught artist, Osibodu has shown work internationally at Art Paris, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, the Arezzo Photography Biennial in Tuscany, LagosPhoto Festival, St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York, and elsewhere. Last spring, he had his debut solo exhibition at ARTCO Gallery.
B. 1982, Kanagawa, Japan. Lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.
Despite depicting inanimate objects, Ulala Imai’s oil paintings quietly gleam with life. Arranging objects from a shared cultural past—a bear-shaped bottle of honey, a tiny E.T. doll, a plastic Chewbacca head—in leafy living rooms or outside in nature, Imai evokes a sense of nostalgia that is both warm and forlorn. Drawing from her experiences in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Imai’s latest body of work reflects our collective times, borne of days spent in domestic stillness and punctuated by bright stints in nature. On view in her solo show “The Scene” at Karma in New York through September 17th, soothing compositions convey a tender sentimentality. In Care (2022), it looks as though a child might have thoughtfully arranged the beloved creatures, while Lovers (2022) seems to offer the perspective of someone peering through the leaves of a Christmas tree.
For those of us whose childhoods elapsed after color photography but before the digital age, these paintings feel familiar, like a family photo seen so often it becomes memory. There’s something about Imai’s warm color palette and hazy backgrounds. Even the dusky leaves in Nocturne (2022) are softly lit. “I don’t like flashy brightness,” Imai said in an interview with Tokion. “But I like to draw such quiet brightness, like the moment I leave home on a sunny cold winter morning.”
Imai graduated from Tama Art University in Tokyo with a specialism in oil painting. She won the Shell Art Award “Kunio Motoe Encouragement Prize” in 2012. And in more recent years, Imai has had solo exhibitions at Union Pacific in London, The Hole in New York, Galerie Sébastian Bertrand in Geneva, and elsewhere.
B. 1988, Stockholm, Sweden. Lives and works in Stockholm.
Intuition is the animating force behind Malin Gabriella Nordin’s paintings, which burst with splashy organic forms rendered in radiant jewel tones. The Swedish artist works with abandon in a process she has likened to automatic writing. Using fast-drying paints to facilitate speed, she lets each gesture inform the next, favoring improvisation and continual adaptation over conscious planning. An abstractionist who embraces bold color and grounds her practice in the spiritual, Nordin can be situated in the same artistic lineage as a fellow Swede, the influential Hilma af Klint.
Nordin’s canvases were most recently featured in a solo presentation with Gallery Steinsland Berliner at CHART 2022. (Though the fair physically concluded on August 28th, it can be explored online through September 11th.) In these works, her energetic process is manifest in visible brushstrokes and dynamic compositions that border on kaleidoscopic. In Skymning (2022), for example, abstracted petals and leaves swirl, tie-dye-like, around a glowing orange center.
In 2013, Nordin received a BA in fine arts from the Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Norway. Since then, she has mounted numerous solo exhibitions in galleries and institutions across northern Europe, including Oslo’s Galleri Golsa, Bergen’s Tag Team Studio, and Kristianstad Konsthall in Sweden.