Art in today’s climate is shying away from traditional methods and pushing spectators into open-mindedness. Through the use of different practices, contemporary artists are being unique and unconventional when sharing their worlds. In no particular order, here’s a list of our top 10 visual artists we believe will uplift you throughout 2022 and inspire you to be daring.
1. WONDER BUHLE MBAMBO
First up, we have the South African painter, Wonder Buhle Mbambo. At first glance of coming across his painting, the richness of tones draws spectators in. The abundance use of dark skin hues against vibrant colours of greens, blues, turquoise, and pinks engulfs his canvases. Every frame captures the essence of youth with its boldness, making his art radiant, fun, and loud.
2. BOSCOE HOLDER
Next, we have the late self-taught visual artist, Boscoe Holder. Born in the 1920s, Holder showed great adoration towards the Trinidad & Tobago culture. He had researched local dances and Trinidadian songs, all of which he illustrates in his paintings. The contemporary artist’s use of colour, while exploring femininity, the male body, landscape, sports, and dances were done with great care. He was a product of his visualisations as he lived a colourful life; one comprising him also being a choreographer, dancer, musician, and designer. There’s a softness in his painting that also holds a lot of detail within it. A reflection of the full life he lived.
3. MAFALDA VASCONCELOS
Mafalda Vasconcelos is an artist we will happily give flowers to. With a blended heritage of Mozambique and Portugal, the South African-born modern artist began her artistic journey through fashion illustration. She then began to explore portraiture-style paintings, which focus on her interpretation of identity and consciousness. Delve deeper into Vasconcelos’s story in this interview she did with us last year.
4. TJ AGBO
This Nigerian visual painter is described to be a multidisciplinary artist. TJ Agbo’s work consists of patterns against the skin through the contrast of black, white, and colour. His work is heavily influenced by themes of the natural world and the human body, in unusual and creative compositions.
5. KING KESIA
King Kesia doesn’t shy away from various textiles and paints to bring her world to life. As a former fashion designer, it has exposed King Kesia to adopt the ability to collide multiple pieces of material onto the canvas.
On her website, her artistic statement states:
“In my work, I expore these themes of evolving forms, inner Gods, and the patchwork of materials we used to become whole."
I interpret her use of different mediums as her understanding of humanity’s complexities and the many shades it can possess.
6. LINDSAY ADAMS
Lindsay Adams allows her artistic expression to be a tool of communication. Being a product of intersectionality, a disability advocate, and a world traveller; provides Adams with an inclusive perspective that is familiar to spectators.
“I explore identity and expression, acknowledging imperfection, flaws, and nuances exist in humanhood while embracing the range of imagination,” her artist statement states.
“Using figuration, abstraction, and portraiture, I explore the relationship between black identity and peace.” Her artistic technique is enlivened. She holds a catalogue of faces, sharing stories through chosen tones, the emotions on their faces with thick strokes of oil paints on paper.
7. TORIN ASHTUN
Next, we have Torin Ashtun, based in Long Beach, California. Having a global following, captivated by her vibrant work, Ashtun provides a refreshing perspective within the modern art world. Her talents include painting, sewing/design, sculpting, and writing, creating a buzz around Ashtun's work. Her artistic expression has allowed her to shed insecurities and tap into her personal power. She motivates other women to discover their own through her creations.
8. TIFFANI GRIMSLEY
Tiffani Grimsley’s work fearlessly shows her appreciation of Black Feminity in all its fullness. From full lips to full afros, Grimsley has beautified the features of the Black Body that are often ridiculed in today’s society. Using techniques such as the pencil, watercolour, oil pastel, and acrylic paint Grimsley’s illustrations are upfront and playful.
9. ASHLEY JULIET
Ashley Juliet is a painter that pays homage to streetwear culture and her favourite music albums. As acrylic paint is her chosen weapon, Ashley Juilet's technique holds a sense of mystery. The contrast of minimalist, thick brushstrokes against bright, vibrant colours allows spectators to study her work in greater depth while appreciating album covers that bit more.
Finally, we have Adrian_sux. Mastering in multiple mediums such as the ballpoint pen, lace, acrylic, colour pencil, and various other collage elements. His choice of using many materials breathes a boldness into his work that is lifelike and thrilling. His work reflects Black American culture in recent times, capturing its rawness in real-time. There’s a sense of nostalgia roaming within his pieces, as Adrian’s work documents an experience that’s hardly appreciated within the mainstream art world.
Who’s on your radar? Comment below the artists you believe we should keep an eye out for this year!