With February behind us, we charted a list of the most popular artists of the month. There are few regulars on it, such as Banksy and Basquiat, but also some new names that attracted your attention. Two authors from South Korea made it to the first two places, showing an unceasing, and growing interest in art from this country. Murakami is also here, to complete the cohort coming from the East, while a portraitist from Australia, Henrietta Harris, is on the list for a second month in a row. Being self-though, Harris joins Nina Ghafari and Guy Denning, who also do not have art in practice degrees but this does not stop them to be among the most sought-after creatives of the month of February.
Scroll down to read more about them, and to check out what they had to say about what they do.
Featured image: Guy Denning. Image via Widewalls archive.
Xooang Choi - Dealing with Wounds and Scars
A South Korean artist that plays with human body in his sculptures, Xooang Choi tops our list of the most popular creatives of February 2017. He already became recognized for his experimentation with human form in painted polymer clay during his studies at the Seoul National University. He often distorts or enlarges figures or body parts in order to show us the intensity of human emotions and to point at some of the issues that plague our society, such as gender and sex hierarchies, discrimination, isolation, and loneliness.
“I sense wounds and pains of people that are not always so obvious or direct …Figures of my sculptures, often composed through the process of destruction, transformation and re-assemblage, are reflective of these elements. What might seem brutal at first glance is actually my method of dealing with such wounds and scars…”
Featured image: Xooang Choi and one of his works. Image via Widewalls archive.
Hong Seon Jang - Installing Transience
Hong Seon Jang, another South Korean artist known for his installations and educated both in his native country and in U.S., is part of our February’s list. Inspired by the transience of all things that surround us, Jang makes his installations out of found materials, such as strings, different types of tape, and aluminium foil.
Adding new meanings to everyday materials, Jang partakes visually in a philosophical tradition of the East that emphasizes the circular flow of life and connectedness between all beings. Inscribing into materials new meanings and values through artistic transformation, this creative invites us to recognize our environment and to attune to creativity, fragility, and destruction that invest our existence.
Featured image: Hong Seon Jang – Zip City. Image via Widewalls archive.
Jean Michel Basquiat - A Continuous Presence of the Art Prodigy
Making the headlines anew in the last few months due to a sale of one of his works over Instagram for an astonishing $24 million, Jean Michel Basquiat is among the creatives who attracts the public decades after his death. Being one of the most recognizable faces of black art scene, but also one of the most popular creatives of the last few decades of the 20th century, Basquiat attracts with sheer power of his expression, but also with a star-like aura of his artistic personality.
Moving in circles around Andy Warhol and his Factory, Basquiat boomed on the New York scene in the early 1980s. In 2017 he is again in focus not just because of the amounts his works fetch at auctions, but also because of the two forthcoming exhibitions – Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, and Basquiat: Boom for Real at the Barbican Gallery in London.
Featured image: Jean Michel Basquiat. Image via Widewalls archive.
Nina Ghafari - Unorthodox and Impressive
A Norwegian-Iranian artist Nina Ghafari moves borders of what we assume is art, and artistic practice. Being self-thought, she moves in the fields of curating, fashion, performance, club and music production with equal ease. Names that are commonly attached to her for comparison are equally impressive and include Basquiat, Karel Appel from CoBrA, street artist Bäst, as well as the whole movement of Arte Povera. In visual arts Ghafari is known for her unorthodox style that draws from street and urban art scene.
Featured image: Nina Ghafari – Your Only Comfort is Your Cage. Image via Widewalls archive.
Hush - Inspired by Asia
Hush is a UK street creative who combines graffiti, collage, stencil, painting, and drawing in his works. Besides urban scene, he is also inspired by the art of the East, particularly Japan and its geisha culture. These figures of female entertainers are central on his pieces, done in style that is reminiscent of traditional color palette but also modern graffiti styles.
“Asia was an extremely important influence on my life both philosophically and visually. The way the East, especially the youth, adopt Western styles and cultural influences but struggle with holding on to traditional values is of interest to me and in my work. The place is a melting pot and very inspirational.”
Featured image: Hush at work. Image via Widewalls archive.
Henrietta Harris - Abstract, Figurative, but above All Polished
Being on our list for January as well, it seems that the Auckland-born artist Henrietta Harris is commanding the public attention when contemporary art is concerned. Focused primarily on portraits, she combines pen, watercolor, paper, gouache, and acrylic on her dream-like images. Often including distorted faces that seem to curve and flow like a spilled liquid, Harris transmutes her own reclusive character into them, culminating in a series of portraits without faces. Deformations of her figures are actually a move towards abstraction, which slowly overtakes portraits.
Featured image: Left: Henrietta Harris – Make Sense / Right: Henrietta Harris – Smooth Down. Image courtesy of the Robert Fontaine Gallery.
Guy Denning - Drawing His Way Up
Being from the UK but currently residing in France, Guy Denning is another of the self-thought artists who is currently among the most popular in the world. A member of the privileged group of creatives who can live well off of their work, Denning is aware of his good luck, which led him to take more time in creating his works that combine drawings with stenciled texts.
“I’m slowing down the output. If people are paying good money (and in these financial times too) they deserve the best I can give. On the personal front I’m frequently kicking myself up the arse for not getting enough done. I’m not taking my good fortune for granted or taking as a given… It’s still difficult getting used to the fact that I don’t have to support my art work with some other crappy job.”
Featured image: Guy Denning – Fucked up Celebrity Portrait #1, 2008. Image via Widewalls archive.
Takashi Murakami - From Otaku to World Fame
If we are to shift some ingrained art historical narratives, historical trajectories, and models of valuation, we could safely say that Andy Warhol was the American Takashi Murakami. This world-famous creative comes from Japan, and is currently among the most sought-after figures of contemporary art whose works are sold out on each auction on which they appear. Combining commercial and fine art in his iridescent pieces, he came to fame with his Otaku-inspired artworks.
Featured image: Takashi Murakami in the Palace of Versailles. Image via Widewalls archive.
David Hamilton - Sexuality in Focus
David Hamilton quest for beauty has led to diverse reactions to his work. Praised but also disparaged for openly sexualizing under-age girls, Hamilton finally gave in under accusations of sexual misconduct and committed suicide last year. However, the interest in his work is not receding. Focusing on lesbianism and adolescence among other topics, he created photos that enchant with subdued colors and soft focus.
Featured image: David Hamilton’s photo. Image via desordre.fr.
Banksy - The Lasting Allure of the Street Art Legend
Constantly in the media, but not always out of his own volition, Banksy is among the contemporary creatives that grew into urban legends. Last year he intrigued us with his Dismaland, and this year’s street art scene will surely be enriched with at least a few of his provocative murals. Closing our list of the most popular creatives of February, stay tuned to see what Banksy has in store for us in the following months!