Who will be the next big thing? We asked some of the art world’s leading curators, writers, art advisors, and gallery directors about which artists are on their radars for 2022 and why. Some of their picks have already established formidable art-world profiles, but are poised to reach the next level of their careers; others are just coming onto the scene. Get to know them all below.
Diane Severin Nguyen
Curator Natalia Sielewicz recently introduced me to the work of Diane Severin Nguyen: in particular her 19-minute film IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS (2021), which formed the centerpiece of the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition at SculptureCenter in Queens. Daring and astute in its layering of real world politics (the Soviet Bloc, the migrant crisis) and social media culture (think TikTok-esque dance routines), Nguyen’s film showed how such imagery equally numbs and harnesses the emotions of viewers. I’m excited to see what follows, whether it be more filmic mash-ups of pre- and post-Iron Curtain culture or her photographs, which capture synthetic and natural materials in alchemic states of transformation.
—Melanie Pocock, curator at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
I first met Alisa when she was doing the prestigious Fountainhead Residency in Miami and was impressed by both the artist and the work. She was then included in a NXTHVN Studio Fellowship exhibition at James Cohan gallery in New York, followed by a great group show at Kavi Gupta in Chicago. All of her work sold quickly, and she will be having her first solo show at Kavi Gupta in April, opening during EXPO Chicago.
—Karen Boyer, Miami-based art advisor, founder of Elements In Play
Tabboo! (Stephen Tashjian) is a multidisciplinary performer, designer, and artist with a fascination for celebrity, cityscapes, and the aesthetics of the everyday. Tabboo! is a painter at the peak of his talents, bubbling up from the underground. Coming to prominence at the heart of New York City’s drag scene in the 1980s, his work holds a diaristic impulse that has ranged from the visuals of nightlife to idyllic scenery. Portraits of friends, still-lifes, and work related to current political opposition populates the artist’s oeuvre, rendered sparkling and bittersweet with a striking honesty.
Tabboo! has performed extensively, created murals for public projects, designed flyers, album covers, and collaborated with fashion designers including Supreme and Marc Jacobs, with more to come. His peers are Jack Pierson and Nan Goldin, and any museum that owns these artists’ work needs a Tabboo! to complete the art historical narrative, as he was a muse and inspiration to so many, a painter’s painter, legendary. His work is already held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
In March 2022, Tabboo! will have a solo show of new cityscapes painted during the last two years—a love letter to NYC—held jointly at both Gordon Robichaux and Karma galleries.
—Gordon Robichaux, New York-based art dealer
For Khari Turner, 2021 was already a blockbuster year, with his much-publicized sold-out solo show [at Ross-Sutton Gallery], numerous group exhibitions, a record-breaking result in the “Say it Loud” auction at Christie’s and an ever-growing waitlist of both private and institutional buyers. In 2022, Khari will have his first museum solo show, opening in May at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and he will have his first European solo show at CFHILL in Stockholm.
Also, I was invited by the European Cultural Center to take part in their exhibition “PERSONAL STRUCTURES” during the 2022 Venice Biennale, and I plan to do a solo presentation with Khari Turner in the Palazzo Bembo on the Grand Canal, April 20-November 27. This will undoubtedly establish him further in the international arena.
—Destinee Ross Sutton, New York-based art dealer
Richard Bell is a great conceptual Australian artist and activist, a painter, filmmaker, and writer/theoretician, born in 1953 of the Gamilaraay people, one of the four largest Aboriginal nations. We worked together for the Sydney Biennial in 2008 and he is finally coming to be known in the West and North of the world, very late. He loves humour, uses laughter as a revolutionary technique, and explores color and figuration in all their layered meanings. An excellent craftsperson, he “crafts” Black power in Australia and the world. It is about time he was in Documenta and I thank the next exhibition’s curator team for making that happen!
—Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, curator and director of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporane
Zineb Sedira will be the first French artist from a migratory background to show her work in the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Blending fact with fiction, her project will question national identity, colonialism and migration, which is interwoven with the artist’s personal biography, through the lens of cinema. The pavilion opens during the French Presidential Elections in April 2022, at a time when many European nations face growing pressure to redefine their societies for the future. Undoubtedly the presentation will raise many pressing questions and generate lasting discussions that will reach well beyond France.
—Sam Bardouil and Till Fellrath, founders and directors of the multidisciplinary curatorial platform artReoriented, curators of the Lyon Biennale in 2022, and affiliate curators at Gropius Bau in Berlin
My artist to watch is Korakrit Arunanondchai. He is more and more present in group shows and solo shows in Europe and around the world. I am very impressed by his spiritual and contemporary approach as a citizen of Thailand protesting the regime, mixing ghosts with drones and old stories of Buddhist monks with today’s political issues. He is a young artist that is not afraid to address questions of life and death—and his aesthetic is as rich as it is refined.
—Elke Buhr, art critic and editor-in-chief of Monopol
One thing that stayed with me most of the past year is the “Fiery Ginger Hot Sauce,” released and crafted by artist Adam Farah, who often works under the moniker free.yard. It came in a box package designed by self-labeled emotional minimalist Abbas Zahedi. Farah presented a very touching show at Camden Art Center this fall, while Zahedi worked on an array of projects this past year, one of which—Ouranophobia—took place at a former Royal Mail sorting office in London and, I believe, was a turning point for him, and the people who got the chance to experience it. I’m really excited to see what’s coming up next for both of them—and for more sauces! They are also part of the curatorial committee for the second edition of the Brent Biennial which will be curated by Eliel Jones (8 July – 11 September 2022), which I am equally excited about.
I believe the location where Ouranophobia took place has now been demolished or is about to be, which leads me to mention the collective Le Wonder, a very ambitious artist-run and shared studio space, currently based in Clichy in the suburbs of Paris. It is where artists uch as Thomas Teurlai, Roy Kohnke, Pierre Gaignard and Nelson Pernisco—to name but a few amongst the 70—are working. They are about to loose their building because of a real estate development project. On top of being very promising artists, the energy they bring to the artistic scene in Paris and beyond is vital. They need urgent support!
—Cédric Fauq, chief curator at CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France
Justin Caguiat is not only a fantastic painter but a poet as well. His ethereal visions transport the viewer to imagined worlds which also pay homage to Japanese and European art history. I bought a work from his first exhibition and I know some of my clients and I are looking forward to where he takes us to next.
—Diane Abela, art advisor at Gurr Johns
Portrait of Lakwena Maciver by Samuel Butt.
I think Lakwena Maciver is one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary artists. Her panel paintings with bright contrasting shapes and colours use strong words of affirmation, warnings and encouragement and are very inspirational, commanding our attention. I find her visual language relevant in today’s world and her work responds to and re-appropriates elements of popular culture. Her installations have taken over many public spaces stirring joyful emotions and she has a show coming up with Vigo Gallery in January 2022 and no doubt many more things throughout the year.
—Nazy Vassegh, founder of Eye of the Collector and Business of Art
Manuel Mathieu is a prolific painter, and since his graduation from Goldsmiths College, he has been acceleratingly his artistic practice and outreach. Born in Haiti and currently based in Montreal, Mathieu has taken on internationally renowned artist residencies (most recently Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart) and received multiple national awards including the Sobey Art Award in 2020 and works with a handful of international gallerists and dealers. His paintings, informed by the art historical canon of figurative abstraction, emerge as an amalgamation of the torrid history of violence—in Haiti specifically—and the fraught calling of existentialism that his personal experiences precipitate. Mathieu also cares for his generation and under-represented artists, with the Marie Solange-Apollon fund he initiated with the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal supporting diversification of the collection.
—Fatoş Üstek, London-based curator and writer
I visited Mohammed Sami’s studio and felt a rare moment of unity between concept and execution. Sami’s voice belongs to the new world of today. His practice deals explicitly with trauma and memory as he lived through seven wars while in Iraq before fleeing to Sweden as a refugee. He is a classically trained painter whose work has the technical depth of artists such as Luc Tuymans, Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen.
Sami has institutional recognition as well, his work was shown as part of ‘Mixing it up’ at the Hayward Gallery and will be part of “The London Open 2022” at the Whitechapel Gallery. Sami will have a solo show at Modern Art gallery in London in 2022.
—Sibylle Rochat, founder and director of Rochat Art Consultancy