Four artists to watch in 2015

“Youth is to be regarded with respect. How do we know that his future will not be equal to our present?” Rarely are the truisms of Confucius ever challenged; with this in mind, four emerging artists deserve a sizable degree of respect as we enter the year 2015.

Sarah Bereza, The Animals, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Sarah Bereza, The Animals, 2014.
Courtesy of the artist

Sarah Bereza
Born 1979 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

Painting is always looking to reinvent itself, and what better way of doing that than to leave it in the capable hands of an artist like Sarah Bereza? Bereza employs a no-comfort policy while working in her Brooklyn studio, as a means of motivating her to continuously produce and experiment. Early works reflected an interest in dystopic, post-apocalyptic landscapes in locales such as Chernobyl and Detroit, overrun with the threatening visages of Tasmanian Devils and wild boars. All of these works were embraced by hand-made frames comprised of wood, resin, copper, and moulding plaster. The results manifest as two works in one: a painted image executed with delicate precision and a sculpture that bubbles and reaches over those paintings, as if taking it by surprise. Bereza and her husband, composer/musician Will Bates, have created a unique collaborative of art and music called Fall On Your Sword, operating between New York and Los Angeles.

Aramis Gutierrez, A Puny Body Weakens the Soul, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Spinello Projects, Miami

Aramis Gutierrez, A Puny Body Weakens the Soul, 2012.
Courtesy of the artist and Spinello Projects, Miami

Aramis Gutierrez
Born 1975 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Lives and works in Miami, Florida

Apart from being a dedicated painter in his own right, Aramis Gutierrez is one-third of an artist-run, alternative gallery space in Miami’s Little Haiti district known as GUCCIVUITTON. His paintings communicate disruptions and stresses in aesthetic vision, as Gutierrez often depicts people and spaces that reject descriptions bordering “normal”. Photo-realist paintings of surreal wartime scenes and sunbathing sessions gone wrong have given way to pastel-hued, gestural works bringing the viewer into the dynamic, tense world of classical ballet. [Rudolph] Nureyev appears as a tired hero clad in a leather jacket, empty rehearsal rooms bathed in light belie practical expectations of what has or hasn’t taken place, a woman’s hands are raised aloft are cast in blue as she experiences “Making Love To Baryshnikov”: dance acts as a catalyst for greater considerations of the world at large.

Saul Melman, Central Governor, 2010. Installation and performance Photo: Eva Qin. Courtesy of the artist

Saul Melman, Central Governor, 2010. Installation and performance.
Photo: Eva Qin. Courtesy of the artist

Saul Melman
Born 1968 in Baltimore, Maryland
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

If ever you visit MoMA P.S.1 in Long Island City (Queens, New York), take a walk down…down, down, down into the bowels of the building and you’ll find a massive boiler, glistening in gold. This is a direct result of a live performance by Saul Melman, a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist, in 2010 where he sandblasted and then painstakingly applied gold leaf to the basement boiler known as the Central Governor. Melman’s possession of patience and endurance has served him in other challenging projects, including a recent stint in the California desert that called for two large shipping containers acting as a camera oscura in conjunction with an external sculpture and performance. The resulting imagery harkens back to the earliest forms of photography and the capture of light: performance and traditional still life miraculously merged.

Alessandro Roma, Untitled, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Alessandro Roma, Untitled, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Alessandro Roma
Born 1977 in Milan, Italy
Lives and works in London, UK

Nobody ever accused Turner of being “too beautiful” or “too soft” with his paintings, until they ventured into near-abstraction. But then, his work became truly interesting. This shift also applies to London-based artist Alessandro Roma, whose works on paper, canvas, and fabric oscillate between illustrative floral designs and glimpses of abstract forms living within the existing framework. The works, themselves, are shamelessly fragile, soft, warm, almost feminine. Where aroma succeeds in disrupting the “Garden of Eden” shows through in his curtain or veil installations, where odd trees and collages are strategically posited throughout the gallery space. He has a firm command of both drawing and draftsmanship and, when synthesized with paint and overlapping serigraphy, installation as a practice all on its own. As critic Barry Schwabsky noted in his essay The Political Garden, “Roma’s works speak wholeheartedly of a longing for beauty – the special beauty that belongs to everything that we succeed in rescuing from indifference.”

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