In the constellation of American fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach stands alone for its sheer star power and breadth. There’s gravitational pull like no other event: major artists, celebrities and collectors descend upon the Miami Beach Convention Center for an invite-only preview experience of an encyclopedia of artworks. From 20th-century masters like Lucio Fontana and Louise Bourgeois, to 21st-century standard-bearers like Ai Weiwei, Lynda Benglis and Urs Fischer, to contemporary geniuses like Jacqueline Humphries, Jeffrey Gibson and Titus Kaphar, it is an unparalleled opportunity to absorb the most important artists of the age.
But Basel is also famous for showcasing talents on the rise, painters and sculptors the world’s leading museums will be surveying tomorrow. This year’s edition is no exception. Herewith, discover the artists of the future at Art Basel Miami Beach 2021.
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe
Ghanaian artist Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe’s paintings are lush, commanding portraits of family and friends in a singular language of color and figuration. A 2021 artist-in-residence at the Rubell Museum in Miami, his exhibition opened this week as well. There, he explores twin births—an auspicious occurrence in Ga culture—through double portraiture, as well as a new take on the American cowboy trope. Part of Art Basel’s special Kabinett presentation (delineated space within a booth for significant emerging artists), Quaicoe’s pensive work extends his astounding solo museum debut in Allapattah.
Following her acclaimed inaugural show ”A Line” at 52 Walker— David Zwirner’s ambitious new Tribeca locale led by director Ebony L. Haynes—Kandis Williams brings her diverse practice of collage, video and assemblage to Miami Beach. Known for sculpture, two-dimensional and sound artwork that creates an immersive, subtropical habitat, New York-based Williams critiques racialized colonization through the history of botanicals. Part of the fair’s Positions section—solo presentations by young, hot-on-the-scene gallerists and artists—Williams’s latest time-based work, “A Garden” (2021), connects Bauhaus coloration, contemporary design and depictions of anti-Black racism.
Los Angeles and Lagos, Nigeria
New richly textured paintings from Nigerian artist Marcellina Akpojotor animate Rele Gallery’s presentation this week. Focusing on her late great-grandmother, Akpojotor combines acrylic paint and discarded Ankara fabrics to create intimate, celebratory works that draw on old family photographs; Ode to Beautiful Memories mines the inner landscape of ancestral legacy. The booth coincides with the artist’s current solo show “Daughter of Esan” at the gallery’s outpost in Los Angeles.
vanessa german gathers all sorts of objects—vintage brooches, blue glass bottles, doll shoes, wedding dress scraps—to build ritualistic power figures and tar babies. Drawing on Congolese nkisi nkondi sculpture and folk-art practice, german (whose name is styled in all lowercase letters) embellishes her mystical and feminist artworks with beading and clear quartz to evoke a distinct tenderness. Yet the result is seductive and fierce, as german confronts the spiritual weight of multi-generational oppression endured by African American communities.
Jean Katambayi Mukendi
One of the most dynamic sub-Saharan artists today, Jean Katambayi Mukendi—whose practice shines light on African colonialism—was originally trained as an electrician and brings the unique skill and aesthetic of circuitry to his artwork. Based in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mukendi’s ingenuity is on full display at Ramiken’s booth this week: his kinetic new sculpture, Algopol (2021), defies convention with cardboard, wire, batteries and ping pong balls, transporting viewers to a fantastical world of do-it-yourself, scrappy beauty.
Allana Clarke and Kour Pour
Kavi Gupta shows two extraordinary artists to follow closely in coming years—Allana Clarke and Kour Pour. Clarke has captivated art insiders with her rubber latex sculptures, made of 30-second hair bonding glue. Born in Trinidad and raised in New York, Clarke’s recent work centers on the social pressures of assimilation and Black beauty. Pour, a British-Iranian artist, composes delicate, meticulously patterned paintings that weave together Persian carpets and cultural symbols of Eastern-Western exchange.