Earlier this month at Frieze New York, the first in-person fair to open in New York City in more than a year, one of the most prominent booths
was that of local dealer Sean Kelly
. Holding pride of place within the booth was Mirrored
(2019), an ink and gouache composition by Pakistani American artist
in which the outline of a figure formed from intricate symbols and patterns appears right side up and inverted, as if partially submerged. By the end of the fair’s second day, it had sold for $125,000. That purchase price was consistent with another dazzling work by Sikander, the glass mosaic Arose
(2020), an edition of which Sean Kelly had offered a year prior at the virtual edition of Frieze New York with an asking price of $135,000. Both works exemplify the artist’s practice of reinvigorating historic media and artmaking practices, including mosaic and classical miniature painting traditions.
While primary-market prices for her larger works seem firmly established in the lower six figures, Sikander’s auction market is more complicated. Her record was set back in April 2008, when her engrossing 1997 triptych Veil ’n Trail sold for $325,000—more than 16 times its high estimate—at a Christie’s “First Open” sale in New York. Like many younger artists, the auction momentum behind Sikander came to a halt when the Great Recession struck later that year. It’s taken the better part of a decade, but her secondary-market stats are now on a measured ascent, with her work exceeding estimates to hit the $100,000 mark twice in the last three years, at Sotheby’s sales in 2018 and 2019. On Artsy, demand for Sikander’s work surged in 2017 when she had five solo exhibitions across the U.S. and Canada, made a standout showing in her native Pakistan at that year’s Karachi Biennale, and joined Sean Kelly’s artist roster. After stagnating for two years, the number of collectors inquiring about her work reached a new high last year, possibly fueled in part by her first solo show with Sean Kelly.
also had a breakout year in 2020, with solo shows with her dealers in Copenhagen and Los Angeles—V1 Gallery
and New Image Art Gallery
, respectively. Being selected by
for “Punch,” a group exhibition she curated at Jeffrey Deitch’s L.A. space in 2019, probably didn’t hurt, either. Garza, an Atlanta-based painter of Mexican and Korean descent, has built a devoted following with her distinctively colorful and angular renderings of partially or entirely nude bodies in a mix of classical and contemporary scenes, from quasi-
picnics to figures examining fruit in a bodega.
On Artsy, Garza’s paintings range between $2,500 and $5,000 for a work on paper, or between $9,000 and $17,000 for larger works on canvas. Demand for her work on the platform increased nearly tenfold between 2017 and 2020, which was her biggest year to date in terms of the number of collectors inquiring about her work—though at the current pace, 2021 could well surpass that benchmark. All that primary-market demand has yet to translate to the secondary market. But given the level of collector interest, it seems probable Garza’s work will make its auction debut before the year is out.