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5 Artists on Our Radar in June 2023

Jul 24, 2023

"Artists on Our Radar" is a monthly series produced by the Artsy team. Utilizing our art expertise and access to Artsy data, we highlight five artists who have our attention. To make our selections, we’ve determined which artists made an impact this past month through new gallery representation, exhibitions, auctions, art fairs, or fresh works on Artsy.

Artists have long created meaning through repetition, drawing out new ideas by iterating on a single subject. For Monet, it was haystacks; for Warhol, soup cans. In the work of Australian American painter Seth Birchall, tree branches receive the same treatment. In Landcare (2023), for instance, two willowy trunks on the banks of a body of water frame a vibrant setting sun, while Memory Leaves Trails, Patterns, Edges, Walls, Bottoms and Chasms (2023) uses the same gestural, feathery oil technique to portray the crown of a palm tree in sunset pinks and oranges.

Both works are part of Birchall's latest solo exhibition at Sullivan + Strumpf in Melbourne, on view through June 10th. Entitled "The Moon Under Water," the show also suggests another recurring motif in the artist's work: the rising moon. In the painting from which the show takes its name, Birchall's signature tree branches reach out against a disarmingly blue sky, where the bright moon hangs, its reflection on the water beneath providing a visual echo. Birchall's emotionally charged paintings seem to evoke nostalgia for the fleeting moments of beauty they depict—sublime instances of connection with nature.

Birchall holds a BA from the National Art School in Sydney and an MFA from the University of New South Wales. He works primarily in Sydney, where he has mounted solo exhibitions at Verge Gallery and ​​Artereal Gallery, among others, and received a studio residency at Artspace in 2020.

—Josie Thaddeus-Johns

Born and raised in Virginia, Darin Cooper works across various mediums, including painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. This spring was especially fruitful for the young artist, who graduated with a BFA from New York's School of Visual Arts shortly after opening his first solo exhibition, "AIN’T NO PLACE LIKE HOME," at James Fuentes.

Influenced by artists such as Jack Whitten, Radcliffe Bailey, and Sam Gilliam, Cooper's work centers around themes drawn from his upbringing. "I want to show a more modern version of Black Southern culture," he has said. At James Fuentes, Cooper presented lyrically abstract works that alluded to themes of spirituality, sports, cookouts, hip-hop, and more. In Ghost rider (2023), for example, the artist delves into his memories of being taken to car shows as a youth, draping a hubcap with painted voile featuring a silkscreened image of rapper Mike Jones. Formally, the work references the sculptural paintings of Sam Gilliam, while its title recalls a song by the rapper E-40.

Primarily working with acrylics, Cooper has developed a watercolor-like aesthetic by using rubbing alcohol to dissolve parts of the pigment. This technique results in a layered glaze of color that spans different shades, and actively dwells on concepts of memory and erasure. These bases are then collaged, reinterpreting traditional acrylic painting through a mixed-media approach.

Cooper was a 2022 resident at the Macedonia Institute in Chatham, New York, and has participated in a number of group exhibitions at renowned galleries such as Swivel Gallery in New York, Bode Projects in Berlin, and Andrea Festa Fine Art in Rome. Last year, he was showcased in an online solo exhibition hosted by UTA Artists Space.

—Arun Kakar

Grace Lee's curious paintings radiate both whimsy and mystery. The London-based artist's subjects are wide-ranging, though some motifs run through their work: animals, often in absurd or exaggerated postures; musical instruments; stars. Whatever the subject, Lee—an animator as well as a painter—favors focused, close-cropped compositions that obscure context, prioritizing visually striking snapshots over identifiable narrative. Praised and Confused (2023) typifies their playful, elusive style (including their fondness for wordplay): In murky shades of brown, it depicts a person from the eyebrows up with rings of stars orbiting their scalp, like a cartoon character who's bonked their head.

Praised and Confused was among the selection of Lee's paintings that Huxley-Parlour showed at Future Fair last month. No bigger than 8 by 10 inches, these works use scale to mirror small subjects—including birds, bees, and hands—and create a sense of preciousness. Huxley-Parlour has also included Lee in a new group exhibition, "On Longing, (Or Modern Objects Volume II)," on view at the London gallery through July 8th.

Lee received their BA in fine art from Goldsmiths, University of London, and went on to complete an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art. They have participated in numerous group shows in the United Kingdom, including at South Parade, and were recently included in "Who knows what the earth was before love," an online exhibition by Andrea Festa Fine Art.

—Olivia Horn

Libby Rosen's first solo show took place at Night Gallery this spring, though it wasn't exactly a new artist's debut. In fact, Libby Rosen is a moniker for the joint project of two esteemed artists: Anne Libby and Anna Rosen. The pair, who are each respectively represented by Night Gallery, have been friends since the early 2010s, when both lived in New York. Their collaboration didn't start until 2021, when they started working out of the same studio building in Los Angeles, and thus became more familiar with one another's practices.

The joint show, titled "Rib Erosion" (a loose jumble of the letters in their names), featured lush quilted works incorporating satin stained with swirling colors, cleverly evoking each artist's distinctive style. The stunning, collaborative creations are structured similarly to the deftly quilted, wall-hung textiles that form a key part of Libby's sculptural practice, yet they’re infused with the color-soaked marbling and brushwork found across Rosen's paintings, textiles, and works on paper.

Eschewing a conceptual approach, the artists developed this work through process, playfulness, and a sort of call-and-response. They respond to one another's work while contributing their own expertise and interest in traditional craft techniques: Libby does the quilting, incorporating Rosen's painted textiles, which are created through a technique inspired by Turkish ebru painting.

Libby and Rosen have each had their own solo shows at Night Gallery in recent years—Libby in 2021, and Rosen in 2020.

—Casey Lesser

The figures in Brett Charles Seiler's paintings are stripped down in more than one sense. Spare brushstrokes, a pared-back palette, and blank expressions all but rid them of eroticism; what is left are tender, quiet scenes of male intimacy.

Seiler's recent solo show at Everard Read in London was titled "Luke, Warm," a gently evocative wordplay that could nod to the painting Cold bath (2023), or perhaps reference the tepid nature of domesticity. Yet the comma that splices the word suggests an individual, and the physical and emotional warmth of his love.

Experiences of queerness and masculinity—sometimes isolating, sometimes intimate—are at the heart of Seiler's work. In Living Room and Living with Myself (both 2023), figures appear unaware of the onlooker's gaze. Captured in the nude amid houseplants and furnishings, they seem at home in their surroundings. But a sense of unease lingers: In Living Room, one figure turns his back on the other, while the title of Living with Myself suggests feelings of shame. Other works are simple portraits, titled as such (Portrait 33 or Portrait 34, both 2023). Are their subjects gazing back at the viewer with intensity, or staring into the distance, trapped in their own worlds?

Seiler graduated from the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town in 2015. He has had recent solo shows at M+B in Los Angeles and Galerie Eigen + Art in Berlin, and has been featured in group shows in Cape Town and elsewhere.

—Isobelle Boltt