Who? Allison Zuckerman (b.1990)
Why? The American painter Allison Zuckerman is at the forefront of a new generation of female contemporary artists reclaiming the role of portraiture. Her large, figurative canvases, which combine traditional acrylic painting techniques with digital printing, use surrealism to subvert the male gaze. In 2017, Zuckerman’s work caught the attention of mega-collectors Don and Mera Rubell, who offered her a place on their celebrated artist-in-residence programme. Since then, her paintings have been the subject of solo shows at the Akron Art Museum in Ohio, University Gallery in Florida, Kravets Wehby in New York and the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art in Israel. In 2020, she also created the cover art for a single by the British pop star Charlie XCX.
Who? Stacey Gillian Abe (b.1990)
Why? Stacey Gillian Abe is a contemporary African artist from Uganda. In 2018, Forbes Africa named her one of its ‘30 under 30 Creatives’ to watch. At the time, her work was mostly performances and installations that investigated gender, identity, and class through her own experiences as a Black woman. Since 2020, however, she has returned to painting which assumed as a crucial element the colour indigo. These deep blue hues allow Abe to delve deeper into the complexities of colourism in the Black community, reshaping pre-constructed narratives. Abe’s output has garnered attention from Vanity Fair Italia, Al Jazeera and The New York Times. Her works are also now in the permanent collections of the Moleskine Foundation in Italy, the W Art Foundation in Hong Kong and the ARAK Collection in Qatar.
Who? Helen Beard (b.1971)
Why? Helen Beard creates erotic paintings, collages and tapestries using found imagery as her source material. Her signature palette is bright and bold, whilst her iconography explores sexual psychology. In 2017 Damien Hirst discovered Beard’s work via social media. He subsequently invited her to work at his studios in Gloucestershire and London, as well as exhibit at his Newport Street Gallery. Since then, Beard has gone on to open solo shows at Unit London, Paul Stolper Gallery in London and Reflex in Amsterdam.
Who? Oh de Laval (b.1990)
Why? In a 2021 interview, Hypebeast described Oh de Laval’s paintings as sitting somewhere between ‘pleasure-heavy’ and ‘viciously violent’. In the same article, the half Thai half Polish artist said that she draws inspiration from Francis Bacon and George Condo, and the way their portraits analyse human behaviours. In 2020 Gucci asked Laval to create a series of paintings for their latest campaign. The following year she opened her first solo show, which took place at Unit London. Her works now hang in some of the most influential private collections around the world, including the M+ Museum in Hong Kong, the AMMA Foundation in Mexico and the Nassima Landau Collection in Israel.
Who? Cydne Jasmin Coleby (b.1993)
Why? Cydne Jasmin Coleby is a digital and mixed-media artist from Nassau in the Bahamas. Her work grapples with themes of individuality and her own experience growing up as a Black woman in the Caribbean. ‘My collages examine personal and collective relationships to trauma and how it shapes our identity,’ she has said. In 2019 Coleby’s rich, bold works were shown at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Not long after she was awarded solo shows at Unit London and Galerie Julien Cadet in Paris. Today, her works can be found in the Mario Brito Art Collection in New York and the Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art in China.
Who? Esther Janssen (b.1976)
Why? The Dutch artist Esther Janssen paints large, ominous landscapes on artificial leather. She creates a sense of isolation by overlaying quiet streets and cultivated gardens lifted from Google Street View. The overall effect, she has said, is inspired by the output of the filmmaker David Lynch. Since graduating from Eindhoven’s Design Academy in 2000, Janssen has had nine solo shows, most recently at Unit London, Labor Projektgalerie in Cologne and Alx 51 Gallery in Maastricht. Her work has also featured in an institutional show at the Municipal Museum in The Hague as well as at Art Basel in Miami.
Who? Ix Shells (b.1990)
Why? Itzel Yard — known online as Ix Shells — is a digital artist and coder from Panama. She is one of only a handful of female Afro-Caribbean artists making generative art, where algorithms and autonomous systems are used to create patterns and shapes. In May 2021, her NFT Dreaming at Dusk sold for more than $2 million, making her one of the most successful living female artists in the world. Soon after, she was ranked number 11 on a list of the 50 most influential NFT builders, creatives and influencers compiled by Fortune. More recently, Shells has begun showing in physical spaces, including Dubai Art Fair and at Sotheby’s in New York. Her works can also be found in the permeant collections of the LVMH Foundation in Paris and the Centre of International Contemporary Art Vancouver.
Who? Liz Markus (b.1967)
Why? In 2019 the American figurative painter Liz Markus explained that her subject matter spans from hippies and socialites to cavemen and dinosaurs. Her signature aesthetic is raw and fluid — a finish achieved by combining washes of acrylic paint on unprimed canvases with long, gestural brushstrokes. Over the last five years, Markus’s reputation has been gaining momentum. Her work has been included in no fewer than nine group shows and seven solo shows, including exhibitions at County Gallery in Palm Beach, The Pit in Los Angeles, Stems in Brussels and Unit London.