It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it? We’ve been living a murky, middling life of lockdowns, social distancing and quarantine for what seems like forever. But, under this veil of doom and gloom, we’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the finer things in life. After all, when life is tough, art can help.
Art can force us to think and introspect, as well as providing us with some much-needed perspective. And, most importantly of all, casting ours eyes over something attractive and aesthetically pleasing is the best possible balm for our rattled brains. Art, arguably, has never been more important.
And the art world has never been more exciting. “One of the most interesting and rising trends I’ve noticed in the last year is the exploration of the female body and feminist theory through Surrealism and figuration,” says Lawrence Van Hagen, curator of the What’s Up exhibitions and founder of the LVH Art Advisory. “Employing the magical lens of a movement that saw the height of its popularity among male artists working during the 20th century, young women artists are breathing fresh life into the movement whilst advocating for progress.”
‘Fresh life’ appears to be a recurring theme. “There is unprecedented diversity and representation in the art market today,” says Joe Kennedy, Co-Founder and Director of Unit London. “[My] artists represent the global world we live in, and demonstrate the vast expansion of the art market in the last 10 years, since the advent of social media. When building a collection of contemporary artists, it’s important to look beyond the traditional art hubs to identify meaningful work.”
And so we have. Below, we’ve rounded up a selection of some of the modern art world’s most exciting names, all of whom are tipped for greatness. If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve, then read on — because these young artists are the ones to watch.
Drawing inspiration from the residual legacy of Greek mythology and the all-pervasive bodybuilding culture, this compelling young sculptor is guaranteed to draw the eye with his astonishing work.
Versatility may as well be Amadeo Morelos’ middle name, as his work falls into two distinct realms: on the one hand, his work portrays distorted, bestial figures with undulating muscles that are almost unsettling in their sheer size. On the other hand, his soothing landscapes hark back to childhood with their jagged lines and pastel hues.
An outstanding artist, Sara Anstis brings feminine figures to the fore in a striking, unforgettable way. Using soft pastels, she paints an evocative fantasy world at a remove from heteronormative patriarchy, and places female desire at its forefront.
And, as well as having our vote, Lawrence Van Hagen also admires her “humorous and highly subjective approach” as he tells Gentleman’s Journal. Sara’s next show, titled ‘Pencil of Rays’ and comprising new works, will take place at her representing gallery: Fabian Lang, in Zurich, Switzerland.
Based in Brooklyn, Holiber is another supremely diverse artist who brings his considerable skills to both large-scale sculptures and mixed media paintings. His work encourages viewers to work things out for themselves; you’ll have to search for the interpretation here — but that’s the idea.
Intrigue and palpability are both at play in Holiber’s work, which celebrates both form and colour in all their varied glory. Oscillating between recognisable forms and intuitive abstraction, his final works will surely have viewers gazing at them for hours on end, searching for meaning in these exceptional pieces.
Cydne Jasmin Coleby
If a rising star is what you’re after, our money’s on Coleby. Psychoanalysis is at the heart of her work; she delves deep into trauma, and how traumatic events subsequently affect our identities and personalities. She also channels these psychological explorations into digital and mixed media collages, and uses both vibrant colours and a more sparing monochrome palette.
We don’t usually go in for chatter about the soul at Gentleman’s Journal — but Coleby’s work even managed to tug at our hearstrings.
Cydne Jasmin Coleby
From psychoanalysis to Hollywood allure: this mesmerising artist puts a new spin on some of the most renowned stars in history. Hayama works with oil paints to depict icons like Twiggy and Marilyn Monroe, but flattery is not part of his equation.
Forget movie-star glamour: these famous figures are reimagined in a harsh, distorted light that give them an unmistakably ominous quality. Their amorphous faces and figures exude exhaustion from every angle; and the overarching message is to convey how social media has taxed our bodies and brains to an irreversible degree.
Art historians, this one’s for you: eighteenth-century art is central here, as Wood-Evans takes his inspiration from the legacies of British masters such as John Constable and George Stubbs. He skilfully draws on these historic works to put his own original stamp on the familiar; and the result is a traditional image on the surface.
But it’s also an illusion: the soul of the original painting may still be there, but it’s been reworked in a way that means the viewer has to search for its new, obscured meaning. Stop, pause and think: for that’s the best way to consume Wood-Evans’ exceptional works of art.
If you’re a fan of gazing at luxury spaces, then we’d recommend keeping a close eye on Rex Southwick. Although, despite luxury spaces being his specialty, that doesn’t mean every image is of a pristine, finished article.
Instead, Southwick depicts these luxurious buildings at every stage of their construction process, encouraging the viewers to consider the implications of being presented with a half-completed space, or one in the early stages of its development. Questions of environmentalism, hierarchy and ownership recur throughout his work, and we guarantee that art aficionados won’t be able to tear their eyes away.
Trust us when we tell you that Will Martyr’s art is the soothing tonic your frazzled nerves need. Meticulously precise and with immaculate attention to detail, his paintings explore elegant domestic spaces, and encourage viewers to consider their relationship with their domestic environment.
The spaces he depicts are unfailingly sleek and exquisite to behold; yet always devoid of humans, which gives the work an uninhabited air. The brilliant result is one of an aesthetic utopia, which should also give viewers pause for thought, and a chance to consider inherent privilege.
Megan Ellen MacDonald
When studying MacDonald’s paintings, ‘lavish’ is the first word that comes to mind — and her work, half-grounded as it is in the 18th century, does indeed carry romantic and baroque themes
The other half, however, comes from her depictions of mass market disposable objects, and the overall result is an exploration of how we assess the cultural value of an object based on how it is depicted to us. These outstanding works of art provide endless scope for consideration; and we have no doubt that MacDonald is a force to be reckoned with.
Megan Ellen MacDonald
Hagler’s paintings are the epitome of grandeur, and they reflect his interrogation of his American upbringing, 19th-century North America, contemporary science-fiction and the traditional techniques of Italian religious art.
Time tends to be at the heart of his work; or, more precisely, an excavation of time itself. Viewers are presented with historic scenes, and figures they may vaguely recognise – but distortions in the form of marks, smears and cuts ensure the historical recognition never quite comes to fruition. These astonishing paintings are art at its most exceptional.
Have we whetted your appetite for exceptional art? Take a photographic tour of Scotland’s oldest whisky distillery…
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