After pulling data for the most-followed artists during our CHART preview, we asked Copenhagen-based art advisor, art historian, and former gallerist Christina Wilson to offer her insights on the 10 trending artists—under age 40—at the fair (1 being the most followed, and so forth). Read on to discover her takeaways—from brightly colored conceptual works, to abstract paintings, to contemporary ceramics—that young artists are showing, and collectors appear to be after.
Art buyers like works of art with colors. Is it a surprise? Not really. Buyers also like conceptual works. Is it a surprise? Maybe... As a former gallery owner, now an art advisor for private collectors and museums, it is obviously interesting to learn what clients seem to be looking for in art. Therefore, I was genuinely eager to go through the list of artists most followed at this year’s CHART art fair.
Normally I listen to a lot of sales pitches from gallery owners, praising their artists as the best selling, most promising—a strike-now-or-be-forever-sorry kinda deal. It is not always easy to see through the art world’s use of superlatives. But this list of most-followed artists is based on hard facts. Here is something you can measure and weigh; how many followers the individual artists have. The list is fairly broad in terms of themes, materials, country, and gender, and that clients still love brightly colored works is certainly no surprise. And of course, the fact that the CHART art fair is in Denmark reveals itself with Danish galleries and Danish artists having the most followers. But apart from that, the list itself is not so obvious.
I myself am quite surprised that the Danish artist Thomas Øvlisen is the most followed artist. He has not been very visible in the Nordic art scene, because he went to a New York art school, which is also where his gallery, Klaus von Nichtssagend, is. They will show Øvlisen’s new works in early September. Øvlisen works with painted sculpture, and at CHART his gallery, V1, shows some very fine cubes, balancing on one edge or corner. They are reminiscent of another artist who is on the list (no. 4), namely Jeppe Hein, who already has a major international career and is being shown at Nicolai Wallner. But where Øvlisen’s cubes are colourful, expressionist, and interestingly messy in their surface, Hein’s works are minimal and tight like Donald Judd’s works.
The low-key conceptual photo is also high in demand, based on the number of followers. Here we find the high-profiled Danish artist Adam Jeppesen (no. 2), who just opened a new show at Peter Lav Gallery. Jeppesen’s photographs are often serial, and with a tinge of found-footage aesthetic, for example, his inclusion of sand in the lens, blown into the unit when traveling through deserts or through other rugged terrains in the world.
The low-key aesthetic is also visible with the young Finnish artist Tanja Koljonen (no. 5), who makes delicate, conceptual works on paper (pigment print). She arranges words, pictures, and geometric shapes on paper to appear as small puzzles. Koljonen’s works are displayed at the Finnish gallery Taik Persons, and later this year you can see her works at Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam.
From the same gallery as Adam Jeppesen comes another photographer, the exciting Korean-born artist who lives in Sweden, Hyun-Jin Kwak (no. 8). Kwak makes large color photos of schoolgirls engaged in odd jobs. In spite of school uniforms and their young age, the girls are ready to perform extremely demanding (and strange) tasks. At this year’s CHART art fair, Peter Lav Gallery is displaying photos of the girls in harmony with nature.
In this more curious end of art, we also meet Danish artist Rose Eken (no. 9), who makes ceramic works. Eken’s “I-dont-give-a-shit” attitude is far from neat, thrown vases and teapots. It is as if Eken has set out to shape her entire daily life in clay—and she does it well! I am personally in the process of purchasing one of her works, a retired cigarette package with accompanying butts. Eken’s works are well suited to V1 Gallery’s rock ‘n’ roll style.
Moving on to paintings, here we find Danish artist Alexander Tovborg on the top of the list (no. 3). Tovborg paints in glowing colors, and in a very generous way. His recent exhibition at the Kunsthalle Overgaden in Copenhagen showed him at his best, with a huge installation reminiscent of Arab arabesques.
Adam Saks is a Danish painter of lush images (no. 6) and shows at the Finnish Galerie Forsblom. The Swedish Annaellegallery showcases the works of another artist on the list: Swedish artist Hertha Hanson(no. 7), whose work scrapes its many layers of color free of the canvas with large controlled movements.
Number 10 on the list is a new face in Scandinavia: Dutch artist Frank Ammerlaan. Ammerlaan works with chemicals on canvas, creating an almost psychedelic effect. He is very successful in the Netherlands, as evidenced by his sold-out show with his home gallery, Upstream, at last year’s Armory Show.
So, do I see any trends? Well, I can see that paintings are abstract and ceramics are big in art—and have been for a while now. Also, it is worth noting that Klara Kristalova, John Kørner and Jessica Jackson Hutchins have shown us how to create original new works in ceramics…