Where form meets function

Following on from our five exhibitions to visit in April, we highlight five emerging contemporary artists worth paying attention to in 2014. Each of these five artists currently find themselves at pivotal points in careers, thanks in no small part to upcoming museum surveys, prestigious gallery showings, significant media coverage or a combination of the three. Whether seeking to initially establish themselves, further cement their reputations or to announce themselves to the art world at large, we think they are worth your time, effort, thoughts and even your money should you be at a geographical advantage.


Virginia Overton

With her first museum survey opening at MOCA Miami this month, April signals a pivotal moment for Overton’s career. Her work has already been part of shows at Mitchell Innes and Nash in New York, the Kunsthalle in Bern and most recently, “Empire State,” a survey of prominent New York artists, organized by Alex Gartenfeld and Sir Norman Rosenthal at the Palazzo della Esposizioni in Rome.

What is most intriguing about Overton is the way in which she works. She hardly creates work prior to her exhibitions, but rather the site-responsive aspect that has come to characterize her work has developed out of her preference to create the work in response to the museum/gallery environment in which she is exhibiting. She very often immerses herself deeply in the surrounding neighborhood, scavenging for materials that reflect the city’s or institution’s atmosphere and environment. As a Tennessee native, industrial materials such as wood, trucks, mirrors and industrial tools seem to resonate most appropriately with her upbringing. Using these materials to examine ideas about gravity, weight, tension and suspension, she very often ends up manipulating the way we as an audience experience the rudimentary elements of the viewing space.

Interview Magazine highlighted her most recent work and now that she has her first museum survey under her belt, she finds herself at a critical stage in the upward trajectory of her career.


Torey Thornton

Born in Macon, Georgia, 23-year-old Torey Thornton was included in Forbes‘s Art and Style 30 Under 30 for 2014. Having graduated from Cooper Union in 2012, Thornton has already had shows in New York, Los Angeles and London and 2014 will see him open a show at Paris’s Galerie TORRI.

Thornton, represented by OHWOW (the same gallery representing Cooper Union alum Lucien Smith), is interested in painting the elements that exist outside the realm of the art world. He is known for his use of unusual materials referencing the aesthetic and technique championed by Robert Rauschenberg, a major influence on his practice. Focusing on figuration, he turns these recognizable images into vast abstract creations, challenging the viewer to make sense of the incoherent picture plane. The works display a sense of immediacy with Thornton describing the process of “unlearning what one has learnt” as being an integral part of his production.

With the show in Paris coming up and another exhibition at OHWOW Los Angeles opening in 2014, perhaps this is the year we begin to hear and see more of Torey Thornton.


Nicholas Hlobo

In 2013, Nicholas Hlobo presented one of the most exciting exhibitions during Art Basel Miami Beach at Locust Projects, one of Miami’s most cutting-edge exhibition spaces. The South African native has already participated in a show at the Tate London, won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award and represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale in 2011 – all before the age of 30.

His work can be best described as non-conventional, with Hlobo making use of non-traditional materials such as bicycle tires, ribbon, thread and integrated performance. Reflecting heavily on his South African heritage, his work acts as a vehicle for storytelling, revealing the finer points of a complex African history to a global audience. Currently, he is included in the exhibition “Threads” at Museum Arnhem in the Netherlands, which runs until August 17.


Cyprien Gaillard

Parisian-born, Berlin-based Cyprien Galliard is another artist worth paying attention to. He won the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2010 and has had solo exhibitions at the Hammer Musem LA, MoMA PS1 and the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Gaillard, a mixed-media artist, originally garnered a reputation for high-profile vandalism following his preoccupation with stealing fire extinguishers in Paris and causing havoc while capturing the ensuing carnage on video. His first high-profile appearance in America came in the form of his participation in the New Museum’s “Younger Than Jesus” exhibition. By using and examining ordinary, everyday objects and structures, his work explores the beauty of failure, destruction and the many contradictions of the built environment.

Although the most established artist on the list, Gaillard continues to develop a penchant for exhibiting controversial and thought provoking work.


Dona Altemus

A Miami native and a graduate of the prestigious New World School of the Arts program, Dona Altemus wraps up our list of five artists to watch in 2014. Since her graduation in 2012, she has been part of shows organized by artist William Cordova (“palimpsest”), renowned museum curator Bonnie Clearwater (“Trading Places”) and at the Cisneros Fontanals Foundation (“THRU”).

Her work, an investigation into space and its relationship to content, often incorporates the entire wall or room, reframing our idea of how artwork is and can be presented. Altemus works in a variety of media, experimenting with photography, photo transfers, painting and drawing.

Having just completed a residency in Vermont, Altemus’s career holds an immense amount of potential. Hopefully in the near future we will find ourselves attending a mid-career museum survey of her work.


Houghton Kinsman for

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