Art is a luxury, but I’d dare to argue it’s an imperative luxury. It’s a medium for expressing our emotions, understanding our surroundings and passing knowledge from generation to generation. Art acts as both a mirror and historian to society, making it essential to keep a pulse on the creative greatness unfolding around us. In that spirit, here are 10 top artists to watch in 2023.
A force in the Minneapolis art scene and director of Public Functionary, Leslie Barlow investigates the elaborate web at the intersection of racial identity, community and belonging. Her colorful life-sized portraits capture subjects with a tender and nuanced reverence. Using oil paint to reveal their vibrant dimensions, Barlow weaves a sense of humanity and nostalgia into her work that invites you into the intimate warmth of the moment captured.
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably seen Sho Shibuya’s work before. The graphic designer-turned-artist first captured the Internet‘s attention in 2020, when he started using the front page of The New York Times as a canvas for his daily art practice. In the early days of the pandemic, he painted the sunrise on the newspaper to contrast “the anxiety of the news with the serenity of the sky.” Pulling inspiration from daily headlines, Shibuya continues to create a series of arresting, graphic interpretations of the latest news.
Andy Dixon’s bright canvases are tongue-in-cheek explorations of wealth and privilege, and how those subjects fit into the art historical canon. His borderline-whimsical color palette electrifies old motifs and inspirations pulled from the likes of Renaissance-era portraiture and Flemish still lifes. In his latest series, Dixon frolics in the self-referential pond as he paints interior scenes from his patrons’ homes, prominently featuring his own work in a clever, playful way.
Amoako Boafo’s star rose in 2020 and has only burned brighter since. His striking portraits pull viewers in with bold colors, sharp contrast and the dizzying swirls he creates with paint-dipped fingers. He has built a practice synthesizing the ways that art both reflects and perpetuates the power of representation. Boafo is heavily influenced by his Ghanian heritage and the African diaspora, and his work acts as a reflection of Black subjectivity, diversity and complexity.
This textile artist is weaving Internet-era inspirations into intricate tapestries. Qualeasha Wood’s work bridges traditional craft and contemporary digital art to explore the ideas of consumption, ownership and surveillance. Inspired by a familial relationship to textiles, Microsoft Paint and Internet avatars, she wields self-referential themes to consider the tensions that emerge when Black women’s cultural production is prized while their bodies are marginalized.
California-based artist Emilio Villalba creates the kind of paintings you want to reach out and touch. His work showcases familiar domestic scenes, capturing forms with expressive strokes that create a textural map to guide viewers to the inexplicable depths of seemingly ordinary subjects. Through his brush, he addresses the human condition, utilizing simplified expressionistic forms juxtaposed by figurative subject matter to create evocative and arresting imagery.
Through abstraction, Teresa Baker transforms landscapes into intricate, wall-hung objects. Drawing inspiration from her memories of the Northern Plains, she explores the importance of place and how we interact with it. The relationship between material, texture, shape and color is guided by her Mandan/Hidatsa culture.
Turning all heads at Art Basel last December, Michaela Yearwood-Dan is undoubtedly the next big thing. The contemporary British artist narrates themes of social and self-identity through large landscapes of expressive marks. Her reflections borrow from signifiers of Black identity, millennial culture, feminism and much more. Yearwood-Dan’s work floats above expectations and clichés, making her a true original in the modern art world.
Textile artist Sarah Zapata’s work brings the drama. Drawing on Peruvian weaving techniques and American rug-making practices, she pays homage to tradition while creating technicolored anthropomorphic sculptures and hypnotizing installations that aim to take up as much space as possible. The mix of traditions and styles used in her practice reflect her intersectional identity as a queer Peruvian American.
Visual artist Mimosa Echard’s work examines the binary between nature and technology by exploring areas of contact and contamination between the human body and our material environment. Inspired by the creation of hybrid ecosystems where the living and the non-living coexist, the French multi-disciplinary artist incorporates everything from copper foils and electric components to snail shells and medicinal plants collected from her garden into fascinating mixed-media collages.