For the month of May at least, Frieze is undoubtedly the heaviest-hitting establishment art fair in New York, boasting the best-known galleries, most accomplished artists, and biggest crowds, which arrive in droves by boat, bus, and black car service to Randall’s Island to get a taste of the action. This is not to say that there are no young upstarts for the art connoisseur to discover, however; the fair’s organizers have made a concentrated effort to provide a mix of artists across several generations with sections like Frame, dedicated to solo efforts by emerging talents. If you’re looking for the freshest faces at the fair, these five artists (all born after 1980) should be excellent places to start.
Antenna Space, Shanghai
You might not realize it, but every time you swipe left or scroll down on your smartphone you are in fact painting a little picture on the screen, at least in the eyes of the young Chinese artist Li Ming. In his work The Phantom That Is Screen (2016)—the basis of Shanghai’s Antenna Space’s Frame booth—he’s printed massive canvases with images gleaned from his own iPhone screen, utilizing the same magnetic ink employed by police officers and government agencies around the world to collect fingerprints. The results are abstract compositions that lie somewhere between the wispy rainclouds of classical Chinese landscapes and Yves Klein’s body prints.
Going even further, Ming then had these images printed onto a kite, which he flies on a cloudy beach in a three-part video (played, appropriately enough, on iPads hung in the center of his canvases) that ends with the object loosening itself from the artist’s grip and disappearing into the distance. It’s a nice metaphor for the strange habits of images these days: coming into being where we least expect them, circulating and changing for a time. and then, sometimes at least, fading away once more.
PAULO NIMER PJOTA
Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo
The Brazilian artist Paulo Nimer Pjota is doing pretty well for himself; his show at São Paulo’s Mendes Wood just came down, and his piece Rammed earth facade part I., gunpowder from 2015 occupies a central location in that gallery’s Frieze booth, with one dealer commenting that they had already sold two works of his in the first hours of the fair. (Meanwhile, he's also included in a show at Maureen Paley’s London gallery in addition to a spot in a two-person show at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museet—not too shabby for someone born in 1988.)
It may help that Pjota brings some serious street cred to his collages on discarded iron sheets—he started painting graffiti at age 12, a visual idiom he now combines with a keen interest in culture that manifests, in Frieze at least, as references to the history of decorative ceramics from around the world. He pairs these wall-mounted works with casts of water bottles and fruit, both of which evoke grenades in a reference to the violent history of “banana republics” that continue to color South America’s political climate.
Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels
If you attend Frieze New York this year and manage to miss Galerie Rodolphe Janssen’s booth of works by Sam Moyer, you may need to get your eyes examined. It’s not because her works are particularly flashy; on the contrary, they’re subtle affairs despite being made using that most dignified of materials—marble—which she sources on the cheap from suppliers looking to get rid of defective or broken stones. These rejects are reformatted into wall works she insists upon referring to as sculptures, arranging complementary pieces in a kind of Modernist-inspired feng sui before embedding them into specially cut canvases.
No, her booth is one you’re not likely to miss because it’s made using unpainted plywood, a stark contrast to the mostly white or otherwise matte booths of most other exhibitors. (One big and bright exception is Galerie Hervé Bize’s Spotlight booth showing the work of Op Art innovator François Morellet, although at age 90 it’s getting harder to justify him as an emerging artist.) Janssen says that Moyer insisted on designing and building the structure herself in her studio in an effort to create what he calls a “total artwork,” one that nicely echoes the naturally abstract visual makeup of her found marble slabs.
JORIS VAN DE MOORTEL
Galerie Nathalie Obadia
A recent Guardian article asked its readers (apparently without irony) “Where have all the art punks gone?” It seems the author may have missed the Belgian artist Joris van de Moortel, who literally makes art out of the debris left over from his band’s destructive performances. His piece Iron man, pink man, guitar man (2016) in Galerie Nathalie Obadia’s booth is a typical example, featuring a torn Iron Maiden t-shirt, bits of auxiliary wires, a cut-up painting, and a photograph of the artist himself performing.
It’s all somehow brought together by the glowing circle of pink neon, apparently pointing to both the raw energy it took to break down these elements as well as the controlled, contained transfiguration evidenced by his considered composition. It’s a paradoxical approach that seems to be paying off—he has a solo show coming up in June at SCAD, and another coming in November at Austria's Galerie Krinzinger.
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Hayden Dunham’s work is all about transformation. The 28-year-old’s eye-catching piece in Andrea Rosen’s RACT/RESS (2016) sports a pool of liquid being converted into vapor alongside sculptural flourishes of silicone and tar that seem in the process of melting away. She’s made a series of sculptures she calls “batteries” using materials like lithium that supposedly function as pseudoscientific charging devices, and developed inhalable chemicals that stay with viewers long after they leave the gallery as an extension of her interest in cyborgs and bodily alteration.
She’s even transformed herself, going from a recent NYU grad from Austin, Texas, to the increasingly acclaimed energy-drink-hawking pop singer QT—called the "@Horse_Ebooks Of Music" by The Fader—an alter ego Dunham apparently avoids discussing in interviews. This focus on the mutability of materials and people seems especially appropriate in the context of the contemporary Post-Internet condition, where the ability to move between identities and across time and space via the Internet is increasingly becoming accepted as integral to the 21st-century human experience.