Sure, most of the popular coverage of Art Basel in Miami Beach centers on C-list celebrities attending over-the-top parties and the many millions of dollars spent on shiny Jeff Koons sculptures. But even the most frenetic and overstuffed of art-fair weeks offers the opportunity to encounter new and emerging talent from around the world.
Below, we’ve assembled a list of six artists to watch under the age of 40 who will be showing at the city’s galleries or marquee fairs this week and are already generating considerable buzz. This new crop of rising talent prominently includes artists of color from New York, South Africa, Peru, and elsewhere who are making their presence felt in Miami, whether at non-profits like Locust Projects, tony private collections like the Rubells’, or in the emerging art sections at the main event.
You may not have seen their work yet, but you’ll be seeing it everywhere soon.
When 37-year-old Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s solo exhibition “‘_______________’ MEANS ‘I LOVE YOU’ IN ITALICS” opens at Locust Projects on December 4, it will complete an institutional triple crown. The Detroit-born, New York-based multi-disciplinary artist also has concurrent solo exhibitions on view at storied nonprofits the Kitchen (“Tempo,” through December 15) and Ballroom Marfa (“The Way You Make Me Feel,” through February 18, 2019). In all three, he views race, identity, and visibility through the cracks in our communications and recollections.
Though he is also a maker of sculpture, Huffman’s core media are photo-based works and video, with a special attention to music and sound, and their meaning in the larger world. There is perhaps no more compelling capsule of his interests than the new video he will premier in conjunction with his Locust Projects exhibition: an impressionistic journey through Miami’s world-renowned club culture, screened on the bed of a truck circling the Design District, continuously injecting the city’s diverse history and nocturnal energy into the languid opulence of its most luxe retail corridor.
The 27-year old South African artist, born in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal, is the newest addition to the Cape Town- and Johannesburg-based Stevenson Gallery’s program. Khanyisa’s bold, vibrant, three-dimensional paintings and sculptures depict mostly black characters going about their lives in everyday settings—dining, shopping, or staring at their cellphones. The quotidian nature of the subject matter contrasts pleasantly with his signature style, which combines an exaggerated cartoon sensibility with a street-art aesthetic, lending the works a heightened, unreal feel.
In a recent interview with Stevenson Gallery’s Sinazo Chiya for the book 9 More Weeks, Khanyisa explained his inspirations: “I enjoy going through Facebook event posts for nightclubs and stuff. And images from old Drum magazines…. There’s something about all the images that come from this country that feels like they fit in with what I want to say.”
Stevenson is showing new work at Art Basel Miami Beach that the artist created during a recent residency at Fountainhead in Miami. On top of that, the gallery will present a solo show of Khanyisa’s work in March 2018 at its Johannesburg space, along with a new book about his art.
Claudia Martínez Garay
Martínez Garay, 35, is quickly becoming a favorite on the international biennial circuit. And once you encounter the Peru-born, Amsterdam-based artist’s work, it’s immediately clear why. Through paintings, sculptures, and installations, she wryly questions the stories we’ve been told about our own histories, as well as the images—from propaganda posters to colonial artifacts—that have been used to sell them.
At Art Basel Miami Beach, she is presenting an entirely new installation in a solo booth at GRIMM titled Kachkaniraqkun! / ¡Somos aún! / ¡We are, still!. The display is inspired by a 1972 poem by Peruvian poet José María Arguedas about the last rebel Inca and the all-too-often forgotten residents of the Andes. (The installation can be broken up into groups and paintings are sold separately; all prices range from $6,500 to $25,000.)
After outings at both the New Museum Triennial and Manifesta, Martínez Garay currently has a project on view at the Shanghai Biennale. A new work that examines South American propaganda will debut in February at ARCO in a special section dedicated to Peru. Also in 2019, she is preparing for a yet-to-be-announced group show at a New York museum and a solo exhibition at GRIMM in Amsterdam.
At first blush, her work might resemble a lot of art out there right now, with its riffs on homespun sculpture or geometric abstraction. But that’s just what she uses to lure you in. When she’s got you close, she’ll twist the knife.
Eric N. Mack
New York-based Erin N. Mack is riding a tidal wave of art industry interest—the Maryland native is suddenly everywhere, and he’s just getting started. Mack is headlining the booth for gallery Morán Morán at Art Basel Miami Beach, where his collaged tapestries are priced between $24,000 and $30,000. He will also be the subject of a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum in January 2019, where he will hang site-specific textile works around the museum’s historic Great Hall.
His first London show with Simon Lee Gallery, “Misa Hylton-Brim,” drew attention for its nod to the eponymous hip-hop stylist who dressed Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliot and dated Sean Combs. And Mack has done more than just catch the eye of fashion and art insiders: A recent collaboration with British designer Grace Wales Bonner was fêted in Vogue, making the case for reams of patterned material and flag-print patterns as both sculptural objects and couture.
Bethany Collins, 34, is a rising star, currently on the roster of Chicago’s Richard Gray Gallery. During Miami’s fair week, look for the site-specific version of her project “The Litany” at Locust Projects, where she has built a chapel inside the alternative space’s galleries decorated with a distinctive, symbolically charged white-on-white floral wallpaper.
The floral motif alludes to the official flowers of Southern states, referencing the path of the Great Migration, when millions of African Americans fled the South for the North, including Collins’s own family. The artist also draws on the discipline of “floriography,” a coded language used to pass secret messages through flower arrangements, popular in Victorian England. (Delaware’s peach blossom, for instance, means “I am your captive.”)
Locust Projects will also play host to a durational performance, America: A Hymnal, taking place all day on December 6. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., choirs will sing all 100 versions of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” collected by Collins for her artist book of the same name, also on view in the exhibition.
Originally performed by Samuel E. Smith on July 4, 1831, the patriotic anthem has been rewritten over and over again and used to promote vastly different causes, from temperance to suffrage to the Confederacy. Sung chronologically, Collins’s opus promises to be a powerful meditation on both American history and identity.
Vaughn Spann has had a big year. Graduating from Yale in May, the 27-year-old Florida-born painter has already been included in a number of notable group shows, including exhibitions at Almine Rech Gallery in London, the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, and Night Gallery in LA. He just began working with Half Gallery, and opened his first ever solo show there, “Orange, Yellow, Purple, Blue Skies,” last week. It sold out within the first night.
Now, the artist is off to Miami. Spann’s work, which alternates between lush portraiture and mixed-material abstractions, will be included in Half’s NADA booth, curated by artist Nathaniel Mary Quinn; a group show at David Castillo Gallery titled “The Strangeness Will Wear Off”; and a Rubell Family Collection exhibition of newly acquired work (alongside Jonathan Lyndon Chase—another artist on our list). In January, he’ll inaugurate Titus Kaphar’s NXTHVN residency in New Haven.
Jonathan Lyndon Chase
At just 28 years old, Jonathan Lyndon Chase is already a star. The Philadelphia-based painter thoughtfully engages with issues of race, gender, and sexuality in inventive mixed-media works, rooted in his identity as a queer black man in America.
The candor and vulnerability displayed in Chase’s paintings has resonated with collectors, as back-to-back sold-out shows at New York’s Company Gallery in March and Los Angeles’s Kohn Gallery in June attest. In Miami, the young artist will present new large-scale works made during his time at the prestigious Rubell Collection Residency as part of the Rubells’ annual “New Acquisitions” exhibition, which opens in Miami in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach this week. He was also included in “Punch,” an exhibition at Deitch Projects in New York curated by fellow buzzy artist Nina Chanel Abney, earlier this fall.
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