A 19TH-CENTURY gentleman trapped in the 21st century. A woman who seems to bend the laws of physics. As the art world springs back to life after the summer, we look at six European artists who make up a small but impressive club of creators to watch.
“The work of these artists displays suspended moments, deconstructed forms evolving, with results not quite there or defined yet,” says Tim Fleming, director of Art Los Angeles Contemporary. “It is quintessential contemporary story-telling.”
Painting and sculpture
Hugo Wilson has a rare skill: the ability to create art with contemporary relevance in a very traditional fashion. Mr. Wilson, whose exquisite, haunting work can be found in the New York Public Library and the Deutsche Bank collection, is a classically trained painter who takes the tenets of religion, science and politics and subverts them.
A meticulous series of charcoal drawings of animals, for example, turns out to be a reflection on the sterility of hybrids. “At the moment I am obsessed with the Pisano family, a 15th-century Italian family of sculptors,” says Mr. Wilson, speaking from his studio in South London. “I’m also fascinated with Giovanni Francesco Rustici for his terra cottas. I like anyone who examines the importance and the transient nature of faith as well as the constructed systems of belief and those objects associated with them.”
UPCOMING SHOWS: ProjectB gallery, Milan, from Nov. 14 to Jan. 15
He has suspended dancers in the air, and captured subjects levitating in the supermarket aisle. A little over three years ago, Mr. Darzacq began collaborating with individuals with physical and learning disabilities to create his study “Act,” a meditation on body mechanics. The French photographer is a master at using bodies as fluid expressionism, from those who can maneuver, contort and manipulate their movements, as seen in his earlier floating mid-air subjects, to those who find it challenging and sometimes frustrating, in “Act.”
Mr. Darzacq, whose photos are in the Société Générale collection and the Centre Pompidou, worked for many years as a photojournalist, but the time finally came when he no longer wanted to make work that required editorial justification. “I decided I wanted to evoke complex or metaphorical situations on my own,” he recalls, speaking from his home in Paris. “That was the moment I became a true artist.”
UPCOMING SHOWS: “Act” is on display in the departmental archives, Rennes, France, until Nov. 15
Mixed media; performance
Much of Nina Beier’s art is based on found objects. Recently, for example, her studio was full of real-hair wigs, pressed plants and handmade rug samples. The Danish-born, Berlin-based artist likes to explore what happens to objects, habits and people when they enter the world at large. “I like anything from dance to taxidermy,” Ms. Beier said via email. “I like to look at the products of these endeavors and speculate what they mean; I especially enjoy the space between what their makers intended, and what the creations end up talking about once they’ve gone into circulation.” Her work “operates in the interstices between painting, sculpture, and performance, propelled by a strong conceptual program,” says Jarrett Gregory, assistant curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
UPCOMING SHOWS: Frieze London, with Laura Bartlett gallery; solo show at Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales Oct. 26-Jan. 5.
Natacha Ivanova doesn’t do small. Her paintings, suffused with bursts of color, strong, dutiful animals and sensuous, heroic women, run to 5 meters. For the Russian who was raised in St. Petersburg and is about to move from Geneva to Berlin, a large canvas not only presents unlimited possibilities, it also requires courage. “It’s like talking out loud,” she muses. “It is always an event.” Ms. Ivanova has shown throughout most of Central Europe, and her work can be found in the collections of Thomas Olbricht and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. Theatrical in scope and scale, the paintings perpetuate a visual subterfuge: romanticism, akin to a Grimm’s fairytale, conceals the true story—strength, independence and pure feminism—which only becomes apparent after multiple viewings and consideration.
UPCOMING SHOWS: None in the near future but Ms. Ivanova is focusing on two new series: portraits of boys from the St. Petersburg Navy School, in which she aims to capture a last glimpse of childhood, before the boys become seamen; the second will take on famous fairytales (think Sleeping Beauty) in a variety of media.
The German-born artist infuses her art with a childlike lyricism. Her gravity-defying works are varied in their materials: bubbles made of plastic that seem to float across a cement floor, or buildings that seem to be made of molten bronze, slowly separating and melting before our eyes, like taffy being ripped apart. Her works challenge what we know to be true. “As an artist, I can fill the Pacific Ocean with honey or get rid of gravity altogether,” says the Berlin-based Ms. Fineisen, whose work can be found in the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne. “I have the freedom to find the substantials, while simultaneously canceling out the rest; it is a way to deal with the indefinable gray zones, and the incomprehensible surrounding us.”
UPCOMING SHOWS: Ms. Fineisen will show at Arko Art Center, Seoul, in November, and with Claudine Papillon Gallerie at Art Los Angeles Contemporary in January.
Multi-disciplinary art; primarily sculpture
Jack Lavender works with a motley assortment of materials and media, from dried fruit to ambient music and crisp packets. Much like his materials, his influences run the gamut—from David Attenborough to Vengaboys. In his recent exhibition at The approach in London, entitled “Dreams Chunky,” he used myriad found objects to create a neo-primitivist mishmash of the detritus of our generation. To Mr. Lavender, this aggregated flotsam of found objects allows him to create a celebration of, or perhaps a meditation on, a world that has consumed so much and, at times, given back so little.
UPCOMING SHOWS: Mr. Lavender will show at Frieze with The approach gallery.