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THE ART SCENE AHEAD

Keeping up with the contemporary art scene can be both intimidating and overwhelming—plus, it moves fast. To that end we asked some friends in the know to walk us through this summer’s MFA Thesis exhibitions. It’s there—at institutions like Yale, Columbia, and UCLA—that students present their work to international gallerists and collectors on the hunt for emerging talent. We sent Rebecca Wilson, Saatchi Art’s chief curator, and Theresa Kneppers, an independent curator in London to scout the MFA shows in LA, London, and New York and find the young artists whose work we’ll be following for the years to come. As a bonus, San Francisco gallerist Jessica Silverman identified five tropes in contemporary art that you’re bound to see at a gallery near you.

13 Rising Art Stars

Theodora Allen

The Moth, No. 2, 2014

"Theodora Allen (UCLA) was commissioned by Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane to design a 100-page book titled "49 Paintings," composed entirely of her works. She already has a show scheduled at a pretty impressive gallery in 2015." —Rebecca Wilson

Esteban Cabeza de Baca

Dust, 2014.

"Esteban Cabeza de Baca (Columbia University)

describes himself as "an observational painter," often working spontaneously in plein air and increasingly using only three colors in his exploration of paint and narrative." —Rebecca Wilson

Shih Hsiung Chou

"Shih Hsiung Chou (Yale University) pushes the boundaries of painting to a new level: His "oil paintings" are literally made out of recycled engine oil, which is contained behind Perspex." —Rebecca Wilson

Eleanor Burch

De-Light, 2014

"This year’s Goldsmiths BA show had a manic sort of excitement about it, and seemed free from the usual proscribed "in-house style" of the other London schools. The standout is Eleanor Burch’s quietly beautiful piece "De-Light," in which a rough concrete block almost fills a narrow window, the edges of light projecting across the floor. Suffused with a sense of quietude, the work fills the space with an atmosphere of reflection amid the noise and excitement outside." —Theresa Kneppers

Heidi Howard

Diner

"Heidi Howard (Columbia University) decided to become a painter at the age of 17 after reading Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth in which the heroine Lily Bart is constantly at odds with her surroundings. Heidi’s paintings of her close friends, which have been compared to Elizabeth Peyton, capture not only a person in a specific space but a sense of that person’s inner life as well." —Rebecca Wilson

Erin Morrison

The Head of Gauguin, Among Other Objects

"Erin Morrison (UCLA) makes ‘relief’ paintings, referencing textiles and still life. Her works are a wonderful hybrid of painting and sculpture, abstraction and representation." —Rebecca Wilson

Nicholas William Johnson

Detail, A Punk Smelling Flowers at the End of Life, 2014

"At the RCA, Nicholas William Johnson’s A Crazed Flowering includes four pieces that question whether it is possible to think of beauty without irony. "A Punk Smelling Flowers at the End of Life" features a postcard-size image of Derek Jarman taped to a painting within a painting. It shows Jarman, at the end of his life, leaning over to smell flowers in Monet’s garden. The combination of the photographic image with the thickly painted, dark flowers forms a relic from an age of rococo frivolity. This saturated depiction symbolically dislodges earlier concepts of beauty while still attesting to the sensory pleasure of the garden." —Theresa Kneppers

Hormazd Nariellwalla

Le Petit Echo de la Mode

"Hormazd Nariellwalla (London College of Fashion) transforms Savile Row patterns into exquisite abstract collages that have caught the eye of fashion designer Paul Smith and many collectors around the world." —Rebecca Wilson

Amy Parrot

"Aimee Parrott’s monotypes on linen, calico, and silk with spills and smudge in delicate layers were a highlight of the Royal Academy show. Her work skirts around the clichés of MFA abstraction (a phenomena neatly described and unpicked by J. Saltz in a recent article for Vulture Magazine, but has a visual richness that saves it from that homogeneity." —Theresa Kneppers

Victoria Roth

Bird #1, 2014

"Victoria Roth’s (Columbia University) gauzy paintings are borne out of a process of applying and erasing layers of paint. Their strong physical presence mirrors the performative aspect of her work, which is also evident in her large-scale black and white charcoal drawings." —Rebecca Wilson

Evan Whale

"Evan Whale (Yale University) works with photography in a painterly way, creating minimalist color field panels on photography paper, and challenging our expectations about art materials and the space around us." —Rebecca Wilson

Shen Xin

Counting Blessings, 2014

"At Slade’s MFA show, the work of Shen Xin—which incorporated a virtual reality device, a drawing by the artist’s father and an autobiographical video—was particularly impressive. The video, "Counting Blessings," was shot in Tibet and shows the artist’s father collecting images of Tibetans, creating a photo archive, and then transforming them into paintings in the style of Russian realist painters. In a segment of the video Shen Xin’s father encourages her to make this same style painting of modern day Tibetans, trading their Nike sweatshirts for traditional robes. These paintings, we learn later in the film, fund her education at the Slade." —Theresa Kneppers

Vivien Zhang

System ("Learning Pastoral")

"In her abstract paintings Vivien Zhang (Royal College of Art) explores the entrances and exits of gestures that create the multiple spaces in a painting and what’s beyond its edges—perhaps not surprising for this bi-continental artist who divides her time between London and Beijing." —Rebecca Wilson

5 (Well Used) Tropes in Contemporary Art

Gallerist Jessica Silverman, whose eponymous gallery in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district has gained a reputation for discovering emergent artists, gives us the download on the contemporary art scene. In Art Basel and LISTE this month, Jessica identified the trends worth taking notice of now.

  1. 3-D imaging. Lots of artists have taken to 3-D imaging technology to produce life-like sculptures, but few are using it as creatively and conceptually as Josh Kline.

    Josh Kline, Packing for Peanuts (Fedex Worker’s Head with Knit Cap), 2014; Courtesy of 47 Canal

  1. Print it on plastic. Whether printed on rigid resin or draped acetate, the images by Aleksandra Domanovic and Amy Yao offer the best examples of this meme.

    Aleksandra Domanovic Courtesy of Tanya Leighton Gallery; Amy Yao, Courtesy of VI VII

  1. If in doubt, lean it. "I love Pipilotti Rist’s leaning light box and like Sam Ekwurtzel’s knotted posts. I saw many examples of this trope, but most were not worth reporting."

    Pipilotti Rist, Untitled, 2009, Courtesy of Luhring Augustine; Sam Ekwurtzel, live and dead knots March/April 2014, 2014,Courtesy of Simone Subal

  1. Paintings made without paint. Jason Loebs’ thermal grease wall works, Mohammed Namou’s fabric "Poches" (aka Pockets) and Scott Lyall’s UV radiation "paintings" fit the bill.

    Mohamed Namou, Poches, 2012 – 2014, Courtesy of The Modern Institute; Jason Loebs, Untitled, 2014, Courtesy of Essex Street

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