Artist to Watch

8 Artists to Watch in September

8 Artists to Watch in September
Paul Mpagi Sepuya

And... we're back! Art season has officially started this week, and we couldn't be more excited to get back into the swing of things. Here are eight season-opening artists—from up-and-coming to mid-career—to keep your eyes on.

Cantor Arts Center, Stanford
September 15 - January 7


A few years ago, artist Nina Katchadourian became a viral sensation with her Lavatory Self Portraits in the Flemish Style series. Profiled by outlets like Buzzfeed, CNN, and The Guardian, these impromptu portraits were lauded for their absurdity and their seemingly simple execution. However, like most overnight sensations, Katchadourian was not new to the scene or working in obscurity; in fact, she earned an MFA from the University of California San Diego in 1993 and has been showing consistently for over 20 years. This month, her mid-career survey "Curiouser" opens at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, showcasing an abundance of exceptional work that lies beyond her Lavatory Portraits . One piece to look out for is 2001’s Talking Popcorn . For this sculpture, Katchadourian installed a microphone inside of a carnival-style popcorn machine and paired the device with a Morse-code translator program. The kernel’s pops are rendered into a string of gibberish sentences that, as Katchadorian describes with her trademark wit, find the snack “speaking its own language on its own terms.”

New Museum , New York
September 27 - January 7

kahlil joseph

There’s scant information out there about Kahlil Joseph, but his credits speak volumes. The Seattle-born filmmaker is a Guggenheim fellow and Grammy winner who has directed music videos (and album-length short films) for superstars Kendrick Lamar, FKA Twigs, and Flying Lotus, among others; he was also one of the seven directors behind Beyonce’s Lemonade. As Hilton Als remarked in the New Yorker, Joseph’s works, “spare us the self-conscious folklore…by not imagining what blackness feels like but what it is.” This month, Joseph’s first New York solo exhibition opens at the New Museum—giving viewers the chance to see some of his already iconic works in a cinematic installation as opposed to a small computer screen. Joseph will also premiere his newest short film Fly Paper , a musing on Harlem’s past, present, and future, inspired by the work of photographer Roy DeCarava.

Metro Pictures, New York
September 8 - October 21


With a mid-career survey coming up at the Smithsonian this June, and a partnership with the Nevada Museum to launch a satellite sculpture into space onboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early 2018, Trevor Paglen has some stellar projects coming up this year. The artist is known for producing images that make hidden forces like surveillance, data collection, and government secrecy visible, like using super long-distance photography to document top-secret government buildings, or helicopters to nab aerial shots of NSA headquarters. His current solo show at Metro Pictures presents a new body of work that the artist calls "invisible images"—images made by machines, for machines, and beyond the scope of human vision. It's the first time the artist isn't making the images himself—instead he's setting up the conditions for AI machines to make them for him.

Holiday Forever, Jackson Hole
September 8


One on one, Andrea McGinty’s sculptures humorously poke fun at the commercialization of “personal wellness” and at informercial-style products that profess to make contemporary life easier. This month, she’s in a two-person show with painter Ben Dowell at Wyoming’s Holiday Forever, offering a rare chance to see her works play off one another. Together, her sculptures create a portrait of a character that’s obsessed with household trinkets but not exactly sure what to do with them. One of McGinty’s works features a plastic closet organizer where the pouches hold a colorful array of bar soaps; in another, a personal massager is firmly planted into a goo-filled blender. They seem to hint at a generational anxiety that’s brewing just underneath the surface—“Will I ever be at the point in my life where I can truly settle down? And when I get there, will I even know what to do with myself?”

Night Gallery, Los Angeles
September 9 - October 7


Awol Erizku basically became famous when he helped Beyonce break the internet. Photographed by Erizku kneeling underneath an arch of flowers and donning a green veil, the Queen Bee announced to the world she was pregnant with twins. But the Ethiopian-born, Los Angeles-based artist's claim to fame isn't just rubbing elbows with celebrities—in 2015 he premiered his film Serendipity at MoMA, and he showed photographs of sex workers in his hometown of Addis Ababa at the Flag Foundation in 2016. We're not quite sure what to expect from Erizku's solo show opening tonight at Night Gallery—partly because the gallery hasn't circulated a press release, and partly because the artist doesn't tend to stick with one overarching approach, medium, or concept but instead flips the script with each new show.

Entrance Gallery, New York
September 9

(c) Molly Matalon 2016, courtesy of artist (c) Molly Matalon 2016, courtesy of artist

If you're feeling like a freak in need of some tripped out camaraderie, look no further than the self-woven universe of New York-based multi-media artist Claire Christerson. Evocative of early film pioneer Georges Méliès, her surrealist, vaudevillian tableaus are charming and wonderfully imaginative. Shoddy after-effects animation turns Christerson's models into doll-like mannequins, D.I.Y. props and backdrops shimmer with glitter, face paint is liberally applied and voices are pitched to helium-inhaled highs. The resulting effect is that weird, cool, punk-ish attitude reminiscent of Ryan Trecartin but much sweeter and less net-arty. Christerson's work has been featured on Dazed Digital, I-D Magazine, Purple, Artnet and Vice. She has also shown at Miami Art Basel, New Museum and Image Gallery. Her upcoming show titled "Daisy Chain Heart Ecology" opens at the new Entrance (48 Ludlow Street) on September 9th. According to the press release, the show is set to be the artists "most comprehensive and personal exhibition to date."

The Kitchen , New York
September 13 - October 21


Moroccan-born Meriem Bennani makes work that is a rare breath of fresh air, taking on some of the worlds most sensitive and pressing issues with an sense of humor that is as pointed as it is loving and gentle. In formulating her own realities as a search for identity, the artist highlights the beauty and absurdist comic potential in everyday life. In Bennani's Art 21 profile, she ruminates on the current polarizing political climate, stating that "it asks you to think about your identity constantly... I feel like my reaction to that has been to make work that itself doesn't stick to a genre or one identity." She also asserts that for her, "humor is like survival." That humor is fully exemplified in a particular series of works centered around Bennani's fictional persona, Fardous Funjab—a Moroccan fashion designer creating hijabs for the not-so-average Muslim woman. In Fardous' own words, they are "Avant-garde Funjabs for Avant-Garde Women." These designs were featured in a video display titled "Your Year" at Barclay Center's "Oculus" in Brooklyn, NY, courtesy of the city's Public Art Fund. Bennani's upcoming show at The Kitchen, "Saham and Hafida," follows the eponymous Moroccan women as they search for identity as traditional chikha dancers.

Team Gallery, Los Angeles
September 17 – October 22


A quick glance at Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s CV makes clear the young artist is an obvious choice for this list; he has an MFA from UCLA, was called one of “[James] Baldwin’s living children” by Hilton Als, and has participated in over 10 shows this year alone. But Sepuya is more than just a buzzy name or the next art world wunderkind. His photographs, minimal in composition yet brimming with a coterie of visual clues, are ruminations on queer life, the myth-making powers of the artist’s studio, and photography itself. He pushes the medium forward with tenderness and grace, eschewing photography’s common reliance on a cool detachment or slippery grasp of irony. This month, Sepuya has a solo show at Team Gallery’s Los Angeles outpost, and will have work in the New Museum’s highly anticipated survey show "Triggered: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon."


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