Julian Navarro has a keen eye for spotting talent. As director of Art Miami — celebrating its 30th anniversary this week — as well as its sister shows Context in Miami and New York, the curator and cultural entrepreneur has his finger on the pulse of all that’s new and notable. He sees Miami’s Art Week as “a good platform to see fresh work” and loves that “a lot of artists spend all year producing exciting pieces” for it. Here, he shares with Alexa his picks for on-the-rise names to be on the lookout for.
The caped crusader: Anthony Lister
The Australian-born painter’s larger-than-life portraits of superheroes and villains fill Wynwood’s Robert Fontaine Gallery this week. Rendered in strong black outlines filled by comic-book colors, with annotations from the artist, 40, scrawled in the white backgrounds, the pieces hauntingly reinterpret the iconography of graphic novels and movies. “The way Lister is placing those ideas onto canvases and transforming them into an exhibition is exciting,” says Art Miami’s Julian Navarro.
The globe-trotter: Liza Grobler
Cape Town’s Everard Read Gallery is showing two beaded works by this South African multimedia artist at Context. “She works with all these textures and creates her own language, her own world,” Navarro says of Grobler, 45. “She’s exploring connections between people in her own town and the open world.” He’s only seen pictures of her pieces before, so Navarro is thrilled to now get the chance to experience them in person. “It’s fascinating to see what’s happening in Africa, especially because we don’t have too many artists from there in Miami, only during art fairs.”
The graffiti god: Jonone
Showing both at the Fabien Castanier Gallery in Wynwood Arts District and at the gallery’s booth at Art Miami, this graffiti-turned-fine artist, 56, is presenting his latest body of brightly colored, highly layered and textured abstract expressionist works, which Navarro likens to city landscapes. “Back in the day, we had this idea that people working in urban and street art had to be outside. Seeing this in a gallery set-up will be quite interesting.”
The classic master: Nikoleta Sekulovic
The work of this Italian-born painter, 45, — which takes as its inspiration classical, academic figure drawing — proves surprising amid all the abstract and Pop works in Miami this week. “To see this, a woman going back and painting figures like these, is quite fascinating,” Navarro says. He loves that “an established gallery, London’s Rebecca Hossack, is bringing a very traditional drawing artist to Context, a cutting-edge art fair” and he’s curious about the dialogue that will result: “How does this work change and speak because of this setting?”
The culture clasher: José Toirac
Pan American Art Projects, in Miami’s Little Haiti, delves into fraught terrain with a show by this Havana-based artist, 53, who combines capitalist and commercial American iconography with images of Cuba’s communist regime. Picture Fidel Castro as the Marlboro Man or the latest poster boy for “Eternity” by Calvin Klein. “He’s talking about the culture between America and Cuba. It’s very interesting to see this, especially in Miami,” notes Navarro, who’s impressed that a gallery would choose to present a political show during Art Week.
The kid wonder: Rafa Macarrón
The Bogota, Colombia, gallery Casa Cuadrada will be at Art Miami with an installation by this Spanish artist. His work “creates this world from his childhood, with these new characters,” notes Navarro, who has seen Macarrón, 38, present in smaller, emerging-artist shows and is curious to see what he’ll do in a larger, more established setting. Cartoonish and colorful, the figures that populate Macarrón’s canvases are at once familiar and strange, whimsical but slightly menacing.