There was a lot to see at the second annual editions of Frieze Los Angeles and the upstart Felix art fair, and as we wrap up our coverage, we take a look at four of the most interesting young artists to watch as the year moves ahead.
Who: Although it’s not unusual for artists to undertake dramatic shifts in their practice before age 40, it’s safe to say that the pivot Manuel Solano had to make in the past six years was more extreme than most. In 2014, the artist (who identifies as gender-nonbinary) lost their sight due to complications from an HIV-related infection, forcing them to completely reimagine their practice from the ground up. Aided by a photographic memory, ingenious problem-solving abilities (including selective use of an app called Be My Eyes, which remotely links users to sighted volunteers), and a daunting display of sheer will, Solano has managed to ascend to a new level of awareness in the art world precisely when logic says they should have been finished.
On View at: Peres Projects, Felix
Why You Should Pay Attention: Solano’s practice combines an accessible pop-culture entry point with deeper emotional resonance and growing institutional clout. Although they have also created more clearly intimate and personal works of late, the film and TV characters, actors, and pop stars they often depict are remnants of some of Solano’s strongest memories from their time as a sighted individual. An increasing number of noteworthy institutions have thrown their weight behind Solano’s work over the past few years, too. In 2018, they were included in the New Museum Triennial, “Songs for Sabotage,” and were the subject of their first stateside solo exhibition at the ICA Miami. Solano is also currently featured in a group exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland, with a solo show curated by João Mourão and Luís Silva set to debut at Pivô in São Paulo later this year.
Prices: Works at the fair started at $15,000 each, and were going fast. Two were already sold by mid-afternoon on the fair’s VIP preview day.
Who: Although Houston-based artist Vincent Valdez first made the news due to a controversy sparked by a monumental diptych, his practice is far deeper and more varied than a single sensationalistically misread painting. Valdez’s virtuoso figurative works unearth aspects of American culture and history that many would prefer to leave buried forever, from political upheaval to the abandonment of the working class and the poor by society at large. His pieces are all the more powerful because of their understatement.
On View at: Matthew Brown Los Angeles, Felix
Why You Should Pay Attention: Still just 42 years old, Valdez has already been widely embraced by significant museums and art nonprofits, with more honors to come. His work is included in 18 prominent public institutions headlined by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Ford Foundation. Fresh off inclusion in “Suffering from Realness,” a group exhibition at MASS MoCA curated by Denise Markonish, Valdez and his galleries are preparing to announce a 20-year survey of his work at a major institution soon to be named.
Prices: The two works on view at Felix were priced at $6,000 and $35,000, respectively, and both found buyers before noon on the fair’s opening day.
Who: Los Angeles-based artist Genevieve Gaignard, born in 1981, has a solo presentation titled “Look at Them Look at Us” addressing issues of race, class, gender, and femininity in a variety of media. The chameleon-like artist is a woman of color, but her fair skin allows her to take on all manner of characters and identities in her colorful portrait photography. Gaignard’s sculptures and collage works incorporate vintage found objects and imagery.
On View at: Vielmetter Los Angeles, Frieze Los Angeles
Why You Should Pay Attention: The crowds were nonstop at the Vielmetter booth, and buyers included none other than celebrity power couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, who stopped by the stand and posed for photographs with the artist. Gaignard, dressed in a jacket reminding dealers to “sell to black collectors,” had a powerful solo show at New York’s FLAG Art Foundation in 2018 and appeared in a group show at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2018. Up next is a solo outing opening in March at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara and a show at Rockefeller Center in New York with the Art Production Fund at the end of June.
Who: Originally from Kentucky, Culprit, who is now based in Mexico City, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before settling in the Mexican capital. There, she’s set up a sprawling studio where she paints unabashedly sensual riffs on female sexuality, with a dollop of Matisse/Monet homage thrown in with tongue barely kept in cheek. She’s had shows recently at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Maureen Paley’s project space in London, as well as at Lulu, the tiny but potent galley in her adoptive city.
On View at: Moran Moran, Felix
Why You Should Pay Attention: Two paintings, awash with explosive color, were sold out of the Moran Moran booth in the opening day of Felix LA. One of the works, a dual portrait of two female figures that Culprit titled Meesha and Zipora Sharing Secrets and Making Plans (Ages 8 + 14) (2019) was bought by the influential Los Angeles and Palm Beach-based philanthropist and collector Beth Rudin DeWoody.
Prices: Paintings are priced between $10,000 and $20,000.
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