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Ask An Art Advisor: Talents to Watch

The art world is fickle, and can be notoriously hard to navigate. Galleries are under increasing pressure to promote new talent while universities launch a steady stream of new arts professionals. As a result, establishing value and nurturing tastes isn’t always clear-cut. There are also so many more channels for purchase now – dealer, auction, online, and directly from artists. Hence, the need for, and rise of, the art advisor. Thankfully, we know one: Miami-based Monica Kalpakian, an art curator, consultant and founder of Artvising, who studied with Christie's and Sotheby's. We asked her to pick her favourite emerging and established artists, which she shares here…

Sam Gilliam

Recognized as the first artist to introduce the idea of a draped, painted canvas hanging without stretcher bars around 1965, Sam Gilliam belongs to a group of Washington, DC artists that developed a form of abstract art from colour field painting in the 50s and 60s.

His works have also been described as belonging to abstract expressionism and lyrical abstraction. In more recent work, Gilliam has worked with polypropylene, computer-generated imaging, metallic and iridescent acrylics, handmade paper, aluminum, steel, plywood, and plastic.

Christina Quarles

Focusing her work in contradictions of identity, appearance, and perspective, Christina Quarles subverts fixed subjectivity to examine emotional and physical intimacy with imagination and restraint. Working primarily with acrylics, the LA-based painter experiments with emotive, gestural brushwork interposed with static objects and patterns.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Drawing on both personal and political references, Njideka Akunyili Crosby was born in Nigeria, where she lived until the age of sixteen before moving to the US. Her cultural identity fuses strong attachments to the birth country and to her adopted home, a hybrid identity that is reflected in her work. “She is one of my favourite artists of all time. Just three years ago her prices were around were $3K, and now they sell for a million. Her work is stunning”, Monica remarks.

Leo Villareal

Best known for his glittering LED sculptures, Leo Villareal’s pieces seem to breathe and think on their own, as if their shimmering patterns were choreographed to an alien rhythm. They're actually controlled by complex algorithms that Villareal programs and then sets loose, allowing the patterns to iterate and morph.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

A figurative painter, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s oil paintings focus on figures that exist outside of a specific time and place. Throughout her work, Yiadom-Boakye has raised timeless questions of identity and representation in art, bringing awareness to such matters and the shortcomings of art history.

Nicole Eisenman

A contemporary artist known for her figurative painting and sculptures, Nicole Eisenman utilizes bright colours and wry content matter. Her complex paintings glean inspiration from a variety of sources, including queer culture. 

Chiharu Shiota

Not for the faint of heart, Chiharu Shiota is known for her dramatic, immersive installations which often use found items such as clothes, shoes, furniture, vintage suitcases and doors and windows from derelict buildings. Such items resonate with personal yet mysterious histories. Shiota’s installations are known to energise the physical and architectural space, challenging perceptions of the immediate environment. 

Hilma F Klint

“This is an older artist, but my heart is full with her work”, explains Monica. The Swedish painter is now regarded as a pioneer of abstract art. While her paintings were not seen publicly until 1986, her work from the early 20th century pre-dates the first purely abstract paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich.