in Critic's Guides | 01 JAN 10
Featured in
Issue 128

Emerging Artists 2009

frieze asked 13 critics and curators from around the world to choose who they felt to be the most significant emerging artists of the year

in Critic's Guides | 01 JAN 10

Katrina Brown 

With shows at Migros Museum, Zürich, and Modern Art Oxford, Karla Black may have made the transition from emerging to emerged, but she’s definitely one to watch. The subtle but significant shift in her work over the course of 2009 was truly impressive: from a small solo show at Mary Mary in the gloom of Glasgow in January to sun-kissed brilliance in Oxford in September. The increase in scale and confidence is marked, as she works her way through her particular blend of immateriality and substance.

Lauri Firstenberg
Nicole Miller is presently producing a new work in collaboration with an actor named CJ whose father, Darby Jones, appeared in numerous films in the 1940s and ’50s. Fellow Angeleno Alex Israel, who is preparing for his thesis exhibition at the University of Southern California, where he will present props from a cinema in Los Angeles, is rethinking the readymade as rentable. At the core of his project is an examination of the slippages between art and commerce, executed with cutting critique, wry wit and 1980s graphics. A current project focuses on a defunct local eyewear brand, LA Rays. He has envisioned this sunglasses-as-sculpture as a quintessential monument for LA: an epic tilted lens.

Li Jinghu, Concrete Shit, 2008. Courtesy: J&Z Gallery, Shenzhen

Susanne Gaensheimer
At a time when Western belief systems are collapsing, the strength of Cyprien Gaillard’s work lies in portraying the failure of past Utopias, confronting us with an immediate image of the present. The clarity and consistency that can be seen in his films and his photographic work is striking. Andrea Büttner, a lot more ambiguous than Gaillard, uses diverse media as well as traditional tools and materials, confusing any sense of precision within her artistic practice. Her installations that feature ethnic-style coloured walls can be understood as a commentary on (if not the collapse of) systems of production, both within the art world and beyond.

Margot Heller
Warsaw-based, Polish artist Michał Budny has an exceptional ability to transform pieces of cardboard or wood into apparently simple structures whose power lies within their capacity to hint at, without ever realizing, their potential to be something else. Often prompted by leading titles – Tree, Flight, Map, Housing Estate, Gaze – viewers are drawn into a process of translation. The open-ended nature of this process is testimony to the strength and originality of the works. Spanish/Brazilian artist Sara Ramo has also gained my attention in the past two years; each time I see a new work by her, it has surprised me.

Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith
If last year’s summer show at New York’s X Initiative marked Keren Cytter, Luke Fowler and Tris Vonna-Michell as the year’s most well and truly ‘emerged’ artists, an earlier rite of passage for all three was a show at the Kunsthalle Zürich. In February, the Kunsthalle will host the film and photo-graphic works of Elad Lassry, who appears to be on a comparable career curve. On the basis of a brief exposure to a body of work in various media, addressing avant-garde history and politics, the Basque artist Asier Mendizabal seems promising. One not-so-young artist who should re-emerge to some critical and curatorial reassessment in light of recent trends in transatlantic photography, both abstract (Walead Beshty, Josh Brand, Eileen Quinlan, Wolfgang Tillmans) and non-abstract (Roe Ethridge, Annette Kelm, Lassry), is James Welling.

Carlos Huffman, Untitled (odio odio), 2009. Courtesy: Galeria Alberto Sendros, Buenos Aires and the artist

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor
Grant Stevens, who lives between Sydney and Los Angeles, uses text, image and sound to explore the language of popular culture. Mingling references to the entertainment industry with elements of personal narrative, he creates videos that strike an emotional chord. Newell Harry, a young Sydney artist, travels each year to the South Pacific Republic of Vanuatu to make work in collaboration with local artists. Fashioned from hand-made paper and assorted trinkets, his latest work draws together shamanistic and votive references and is inspired by the history and culture of Vanuatu and the Pacific tradition of cargo cults. Emma White creates exquisitely made, often humorous, installations and photographs that move between two and three dimensions. She uses scale and perspective to examine the accoutrements of consumption and productivity (paper clips, pins, paper and staples) and the subtle actions that accompany it, such as notating, arranging, attaching and organizing. She has a forthcoming solo show at Breenspace, Sydney.

Bob Nickas
Darren Bader: always unpredictable, cerebral, irreverent. Tamar Halpern: her pictures have a rough beauty and feel experimental in a moment when abstract photo work is starting to look conventional. Justin Matherly at Dispatch, New York: as if sculptures by Cady Noland and Franz West had crashed head-on and been titled by the Marquis de Sade. Really. Jacob Kassay at Eleven Rivington, New York, and Art: Concept, Paris: alchemically assisted readymade monochromes, silvery and mirror-like, which are seductive and gnarly at the same time.

Solveig Øvstebø
Naming emerging artists is always complex because the criteria are difficult to define. Although these are not necessarily new names on the art scene, I would like to see more work in the coming years by Isabelle Cornaro, Florian Pumhösl and Josef Strau. I am also eager to follow the production of Vlatka Horvat, Camilla Løw, Anna Parkina and Tris Vonna-Michell.

Naming emerging artists is always complex because the criteria are difficult to define.  - Solveig Øvstebø

Adriano Pedrosa
After many years, Buenos Aires has finally been able to produce a strong group of emerging artists. They are mostly young men whose works bear romantic or nostalgic traces – among them are Pablo Accinelli, Nicolas Bacal, Eduardo Basualdo, Carlos Huffmann and Adrián Villar Rojas – and many hark back to the work of the Argentine master of mystery and nostalgia, Jorge Macchi.

Darren Bader, Untitled, 2009. Courtesy: the artist

Alessandro Rabottini
The small paintings of London-based artist William Daniels are exquisite; their mix of Cubism, abstraction, craftsmanship and virtual-reality aesthetic makes them unique. I loved Thai artist Pratchaya Phinthong’s show at gb agency, Paris: like a magician, he used money, values and predictions to create an ephemeral monument to uncertainty. Patrizio Di Massimo’s investigation of Italy’s recent past, art history and collective amnesia is surgically conducted, but gracefully crafted.

James Rondeau
In Chicago, I’m excited to follow the work of several emerging artists: Shane Huffman, William J. O’Brien, Karen Reimer and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung.

Alexis Vaillant
It’s difficult to determine what makes somebody an emerging artist, but some names are worthy of mention: Johan Furaker’s brilliant conceptual cycle of paintings about Albert Dadas, an early-20th-century pathological tourist who disappeared at the age of 26, investigate the memory of a disaster under the scope of a superstitious, invented past. Works by Alejandro Cardenas, Toby Christian, David Lieske, Alex Müller, Philip Newcombe and Niels Trannois also all evade finite comprehension.

Carol Yinghua Lu
Li Jinghu’s conceptual practice is rooted in his ability to excavate artistic potential from insignificant objects; he has carved a motor-cycle helmet from a watermelon, shaped broken tiles into stars, planted flowers in a pair of boots, turned bamboo blooms into flutes by drilling holes on their handles, dismantled an alarm clock to create a string of wind-chimes, and painted random cement fragments found on construction sites to look like Chinese cabbages. He views life with such optimism and lightness that his art is contagiously romantic and moving.