As we settle into the new year, we bring forward new, talented, thought-provoking visual creatives that we believe inspire and contribute towards the global Black diaspora's climate of today. From portraiture painters to digital gallery owners, this Artist to Watch consists of incredible creatives we guarantee will inspire.
In no particular order, this is our Artists to Watch list for 2023.
1. ALVIN ARMSTRONG
Alvin Armstrong is an artist from California who resides in New York City. A lot of his work consists of the exploration of Black American culture from political and social perspectives. At first glance, it’s astonishing that his journey of being a painter only began back in 2018. His fixation on movement between the male form and the bull is striking through his choice of vibrate, rich hues dominating his canvases. Before transitioning into his artist role, he was an athlete highlighting his understanding of the shapes the body forms.
2. DEMI BROMFIELD
Next, we have British contemporary fine artist Demi Bromfield. Based in London, Bromfield’s work is filled with illusion and manipulation. Whether focusing on texture or the digitalisation of her work, Bromfield leaves spectators questioning the journey behind her complete pieces. Going beyond boundaries, she has created a lane of her own by fusing mediums of paint strokes meeting sculpture. Further investigation is expected when studying Bromfield’s work, as you are likely to be left to ponder what her process may have looked like. Her use of greys meeting earth tones of pinks and oranges can be perceived as life and death finding a middle ground. Such airiness is what makes her original work so refreshing.
3. OFUNNE AZINGE
Ofunne Azinge is a British Nigerian painter based in Manchester. A lot of Azinge’s work stands out with her purposeful choice of the dark tones of blue and purple that coat the skin of her subjects. With a lot of her work centring on post-colonialism Nigeria and the relationship fostered within the diaspora, her work captures the clashes of polar cultures, creating a new identity. Her use of brilliance through material and clothing highlights how fashion and clothing are storytellers within themselves that don’t require words to be said aloud, paying homage to the Black British experience.
4. HEATHER AGYEPONG
The multidisciplinary Heather Agyepong comfortably switches between different hats. The British Ghanaian visual artist is a photographer, actor, and performer. Agyepong creates thought-provoking work that often generates honest conversations by focusing on mental health and well-being within the diaspora. In her “ego death” (2022) series, Agyepong dives deep and explores the concept of the Shadow and how it can lead to a path of self-discovery. Her use of double exposure within her photography is a visual interpretation of subconsciously how her shadow characters surface into the world. Vulnerability runs thick throughout her pieces, emphasising the honesty needed when confronting your Shadow.
5. JADE FADOJUTIMI
Vivid, flamboyant, stunning colours reign in Jade Fadojutimi's pieces. Allowing movement to be the stimuli of her paintings, Fadojutimi's "emotional landscapes" enable the artist to question her daily experiences. Fulled by the colours of the spectrum, Fadojutimi's style of painting provides first-hand insight into her world, amplifying a unique outlook. Explosive imagery of different emotions, each shade reveals a story that changes depending on your own feelings, allowing us to harness remarkable conclusions that can only be perceived and defined by ourselves. Fadojutimi has hacked into a valid form of storytelling within the art world.
6. OYINKASOLA DADA
The pool of talent continues to expand with Oyinkasola Dada. A corporate lawyer by day, and founder of DADA magazine and DADA gallery, Dada is an exceptional talent currently making waves within the art industry. Running a semi-digital gallery leaves room for more diversity and opportunity for those who sit outside traditional, white standards within this industry. Falling into her calling occurred naturally by taking casual trips to the latest art exhibitions and shows. After travelling to Lagos for a year, her interest in the arts became concrete. She told AMAKA magazine in an interview when investing in Black artists: "The biggest value of all is the sentimental value of it [...] I want to see their work every day in my office, my room, or my kitchen -wherever you want to put it. Even if you don't put it anywhere, it's just the value of knowing that you've invested in an evolving and growing practice."
7. COLLIN OBIJIAKU
Next, we have portrait painter Collin Obijiaku. His work champions his subjects' identities through muted dark tones of colours, textures and paint strokes. Validating their existence, each person's Obijiaku models reveal their own story. "When I observe people in spaces, I am looking to memorialise them," he told Metal Magazine. "And in doing so, I seek to guess their past, present and potential futures." His fixation on Black faces share similarities in history, culture and patterns. His work is a documentation series of those who have walked with him in this world, whether for a moment or the majority of his days.
8. LUCKY MSIBI
Illustrating Black music through his artistry, Lucky Msibi has formulated a fresh, relevant and fun style of work. Taking on a whole new meaning to stick-men drawings, Msibi's documentation of current affairs within the music industry reflects visual art's importance beyond digital mediums such as photography and videos. Nevertheless, his faceless subjects are still recognisable to those who are aware, putting forward a conversation that only a select few will be able to follow, creating this idea of belonging for his audience.
9. AZA MANSONGI
Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Aza Mansongi has found the perfect balance between painting, sculpture, installation and video. With her work portraying a mosaic of bodies, puzzled-fitting on a page, Mansongi's work goes beyond the fantasy as she retells factual narratives with a bended-wacky eye. Her work celebrates life complexities as they decode silver linings in positive and negative scenarios. Its vibrancy is complete as it often intertwines Africa's modern and traditional realms. Exhibiting in DRC, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA, her "dance of lines" enlivens the ordinary every day.
10. MIKELA HENRY-LOWE
Mikela Henry-Lowe is a mirror for Black Women past and present. The Jamaican-British painter’s drive stemmed from wanting to see faces similar to hers within the mainstream. Capturing the Black Woman in regal angles, her use of colour is rich and lively. Her painting of Dido Belle glorifies and recognises the importance of Black British history and just how far back it goes. Purposely breaking down her portraits in fragments of colour and patterns is Henry-Lowe’s interpretation of removing ill-fitted blocks society tries to trap Black Women in.
We're excited to delve deeper into these artists' work this year. Put us onto some artists/creatives you think we should know about! Let us know on our in the comments.