“Artists on Our Radar” is a monthly series produced by the Artsy team. Utilizing our art expertise and access to Artsy data, we highlight five artists who have our attention. To make our selections, we’ve determined which artists made an impact this past month through new gallery representation, exhibitions, auctions, art fairs, or fresh works on Artsy.
B. 1991, Rennes, France. Lives and works in Rennes.
A self-taught artist, Alexis Ralaivao uses synecdoche—a part standing for the whole—to explore beauty and intimacy. In La douleur passe, la beauté reste (2022), Ralaivao renders the nape of a figure’s neck, adorned with a beaded necklace, its gold chain resting on the wearer’s bare upper back. The clasp glints metallic in the sun, in contrast to the figure’s soft skin, rendered in such a way that Ralaivao’s brushstrokes are near impossible to perceive. The different textures in the work make it tactile and transportive—looking at this painting, it’s easy to imagine the sun on your own skin, or the weight of a necklace on your chest. Here, the artist’s gaze distills the scene down to its most meaningful details.
Ralaivao has already exhibited at a number of galleries this year, including a recent group show at LGDR’s Hong Kong space; a solo show at T293 in Rome; and another solo exhibition at Bill Brady Gallery in Miami. The French artist earned a master’s degree in visual communications and a bachelor’s degree in business, foreign languages, and communications, both from the University of Rennes.
B. Columbus, Ohio. Lives and works in New York and London.
Amanda Ba’s figurative paintings bring together humans and animals in striking compositions that explore queer identity. Though she was born in Ohio, Ba spent her early years in Hefei, China. Her body of work touches on her cultural heritage, contemplating both the American experience and that of the marginalized.
In her recent solo exhibition “The Incorrigible Giantess” at PM/AM in London, Ba presented a new series of large-scale oil paintings. Using Michel Foucault’s lecture on the subject of the “abnormal” as a point of departure, Ba confronts representations of femininity and sexuality through her practice, embracing ideas of deviance and radical identity. In Titanomachia (2022), featuring a scene of nude giantesses and dogs in battle before a vast landscape, Ba reimagines Greek mythology, taking inspiration from the wars between the Titans and Olympians. Employing her signature vivid red against a soft, earthy backdrop, Ba intensifies mythical narratives through her magnetic use of color.
Giantess Reading (Self Portrait), 2022
Just as impressive is the more subdued Giantess Reading (Self Portrait) (2022), a domestic scene in which we see Ba reading a book next to her dog, while rays of moonlight shine through the window. Through surreal touches entirely her own, Ba creates canvases that convey both tenderness and desire.
Ba received a BA in visual arts and art history from Columbia University in New York, and her work is currently on view in the group exhibition “Eat Drink Man Woman” at 180 Studios.
B. 1985, Seoul. Lives and works in Seoul.
No Where, 2022
Painter Guimi You is inspired by her family, including her young son, who she recently described as being “at a stage of innocence, discovery, and imagination in life.” No surprise, then, that there’s a sense of childlike amazement to her oil-on-linen works. The quiet scenes of suburban or natural vistas have a transportive quality, taking the viewer back in time to a point when colors looked brighter and the whole world seemed to be infused with magic and potential.
Your Window, 2022
In Outro (2022), a setting sun renders the sky a neon orange while, below, craggly trees reach upward out of the darkness. A porch light of a nearby house glows, a quietly alluring beacon. Some of her other works quote directly from art history, like No Where (2022), borrowing its swirling sky and what looks like a cypress tree from Van Gogh.
You earned a BFA and MFA from Seoul National University and an MA from London’s Royal College of Art. She has exhibited at Woaw in Hong Kong, Make Room in Los Angeles, and Asia Art Center in Taipei. Her work is currently on view in the group shows “Fire Figure Fantasy” at ICA Miami and “At the Table” at Christie’s New York. Later this year, her art will also be included in exhibitions at Carl Kostyál in Milan, Simon Lee in London, and Bradley Ertaskiran in Montreal.
—Brian P. Kelly
B. 1989, Eldoret, Kenya. Lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Portrait of Kemunto, 2022
Woman II, 2022
In his dynamic portraits of Black individuals, Nedia Were works with various shades of black to present a more interpretive yet encompassing representation of Blackness. The self-taught painter works to alter and confront Western racial biases that inform how people perceive others, specifically individuals of African descent. Although Were’s works are often untitled or bear a simple description of the work itself, like The Tall Boy (2022), each portrait emphasizes the unique characteristics of its subject.
By limiting audiences’ ability to interpret the work through descriptive titles, Were forces the viewer to search for visual cues and spend time with the work, studying the portraits of Black subjects. For Were, this process both challenges and disrupts the history of Western painting that has prioritized and pushed forth only surface representations of Black individuals.
The Tall Boy, 2022
Were uses color and brushstroke to contrast and heighten the deep melan of his subject’s skin tone. He uses a smoother brush for skin, a heavily lacquered technique for backgrounds and garments, and primary colors to maximize intensity. Were’s color palette and approach to portraits evoke sharp similarities to the paintings of Kerry James Marshall.
Now seven years into his painting practice, Were is finding commercial success, with sold-out gallery shows and fair booths. His “Mumwamu” series (2022) was shown at Mitochondria earlier this spring, and his latest solo exhibition, “Everybody is Looking at Us,” is on view at Eclectica Contemporary through July 30th.
B. 1987, Arlington, Virginia. Lives and works in New York.
Intricate line work and drafting comprises the bulk of Nikholis Planck’s artistic process. The multidisciplinary artist explores the intersections of abstraction and figuration; printmaking and drawing; and installation and painting. Planck constantly creates new work from studio detritus or discarded elements of past work. This is not just a self-referential practice, but a homing beacon for the artist, whose process is driven not by sparks of inspirations, but by habit.
Planck was recently featured in a two-person exhibition in the attic of Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery with Heidi Lau, entitled “Latent Teloneum,” which closed late last year. In this showing, Planck unveiled wax oil paintings on paper and custom frames that transform mundane, observational figurative drawings into ethereal installations; the works respond to the light and physical environment surrounding them.
Planck’s never-ending use of citations creates a delightful optical maze that invites audiences to spend time with the work, deciphering both abstract and figurative motifs. For Planck, these motifs symbolize the labor and social identity of the “emerging” artist, who tirelessly works through meaning without access to equitable resources or career stability.
Planck’s work has been featured at Magenta Plains, Simone Subal Gallery, Anton Kern Gallery, Rachel Uffner, and Signal, among other galleries. The artist’s work is currently featured in the group exhibition “Strange Attractors” at Apalazzo Gallery through September 18th.