It is kind of exciting, actually, to reach the end of each month in order to find out who our own readers picked out to be among the most popular artists of the past few weeks. After all, our database truly is ever-growing, with many new, promising talents arriving on a daily basis. True, some names simply won’t come off our list, like Banksy and David Choe, but what is also a trend is that you, our dear readers, are one versatile bunch; and so, we always get to meet some fresh people, coming from the dusty corners of our memory straight back to our undivided attention. What is more, on a usually all-male list we happen to have a female artist this time - and she definitely deserves the spot. Curious to know who it is?
Scroll down to see your own selection of most popular artists in May!
Last month, he was the no. 1, and this time we see him at no. 10 - the Kurdish-Swedish painter Jwan Yosef. But more than his art, he seems to be in the spotlight for a whole set of other things. One, his name literally means “handsome, beautiful and young” in Kurdish - and he definitely lived up to it, and he also turned out to be the boyfriend of singer Ricky Martin. But when it comes to his art, Jwan Yosef plays with the medium of painting, its physical characteristics as he exposes naked frames and crumples the canvases and other support hanging from them. He also paints abstract portraits on materials such as perspex, which reveal fragmented faces and figures emerging from blurry scenery.
Talented Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz is another familiar and frequent name on our most popular artists list - and he’s got every right to be. Recently, he finished a magnificent mural in his home country, which now covers an entire wall of the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico. Alexis Diaz also collaborated with Spanish artist Borondo on a mural and with Never2501 in Milan, Italy, where he created an interesting sculpture which seems to be a hybrid of a horse, a dragon and fish. He never seizes to amaze us with the remarkable detail of his works, be it on paper, canvas or buildings, as they’re apparently growing to be even more complex with each step of the way!
One of the pivotal figures in Color field painting, Barnett Newman created art based on three essential ideas and influences. Coming from the writings of the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin, the first was the belief in the responsibility of the individual to free themselves from all dogma. The second, inspired by the Kwakiutl art of the Northwest Coast, was the understanding that the abstract shape has its own reality and could evoke feelings directly, without any reference of the visual world. The third, coming from his visit to Ohio and the Indian mounds as well as the Jewish mystical concept of makom, was a desire to create a sense of place that would have a similar mystery of these locations.
Mixing techniques like drawing, painting, stencil, collage and graffiti, British legend Hush combines street art aesthetics, comic books and images of sensuality and beauty inspired by traditional Japanese iconography and the visual identities of Geisha. Hush’s latest works are currently on display at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, USA, for an exhibition. “Some people think my women are serene, others that they’re dark. What is clear is the power of their sensuality” is how Hush explained the female portraits in the show, and that’s exactly how they are indeed, as they seduce their viewers in unexpected ways.
Jeff Koons is another regular on our most popular artists list, but this time we can finally talk about something in particular when it comes to this eclectic artist. Of course, it is the announcement of his exhibition at London’s Newport Street Gallery. Now, this perhaps wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the venue hasn’t been owned by Damien Hirst himself, who also happens to have a large collection of Jeff Koons’ works - conveniently. The exhibition, entitled Now, will be on view till October 16, 2016, and it features his trademark sculptures alluding to the material world and popular culture. What’s even more interesting is that both art superstars appeared at the opening, causing everybody’s head to spin.
I think it’s fair to say that Daniel Correa is a complete newbie on our most popular artists list! A talented painter from Colombia, Daniel Correa paints completely abstract and sometimes minimalist works, using materials like oil, ink, acrylic and pencil. His art aims to be spontaneous, automatic and pre-linguistic, turning the final product into a totem of spirituality, rather than mere objet d’art. As such, Daniel Correa’s art is gestural and in unity with the body, resulting in movement and thought becoming one and the same. Taking inspiration from the abstract expressionism, Meditation and Nature, the Berlin-based artist believes that art is a medium of healing and knowing the unknown.
Personally, I don’t see what’s so interesting about David Choe, except that he was lucky enough to get Facebook stocks in time, just before the social network gained its incredible momentum. By now, we all know that story, and I still think it was just pure luck, rather than some intelligent move. But here he is, once again among your favourites, so I have to obey and mention some of his works here, such as his Thumbs Up! series. David Choe and Harry Kim were filmed hitchhiking and freight hopping from Los Angeles to Miami and Tijuana to Alaska, and then hitching across China from Beijing to Shenzen and the gambling mecca of Macau. A fourth season of the show, in which Choe and Kim travel from San Francisco to New York, is currently in the works.
We can’t even say that we missed him, because he literally never leaves our sight. He’s never even out of top 5 of our list! But it’s Banksy, the ruler of street art, and we can’t really expect nothing less of him. Lately, he’s been drawing attention (when is he not doing that, though?) without actually being involved in things personally. We’re talking about the latest exhibition of his works hosted by Fondazione Arte-Musei gallery in Rome’s Palazzo Cipolla. With artworks on loan from museums and private collections worldwide, the show promised to be the artist’s biggest yet, although there were some rumours that Banksy never approved the exhibition himself. When in Rome, see the show nevertheless, because it’s a great opportunity to see some of his most famous pieces, all in one place.
If you’re a fan of the French graffiti, it is probable that you’ve come across the works of Miss Van - Miss Vanessa Alice Bensimon, that is. She is the proud representative of the female painters, not only in France but on the international level, and it is this same femininity and girl power that she often portrays in her stunning murals and studio artworks as well. Miss Van is famous for her poupées, eroticised female dolls often depicted as hybrids between human and animal world, which explore topics of identity, role-play and freedom to express natural instincts, be it animal or human. Her works can be found around the world, in Europe, the US and Asia and especially in Barcelona, where she lives and works.
It was quite a jump for Chinese artist Leng Jun - last month, he found himself at no. 405 of our list, and now he’s the very king of it! Specialising in painting, he mostly creates artworks that evoke a kind of tranquillity and elegance, whether it’s still life or portraiture. Calling to mind classical art, Leng Jun paints with extraordinary skill and patience, looking to express exuberant detail and the richness of color. His portraits are often without much expression, yet they release a kind of unease and intrigue that keeps our attention as we’re captivated by it. Popular in his home country, but also beyond, he won numerous prizes and continues to have his work regularly exhibited in China.
Below, be sure to check out the full list of the most popular artists of the year so far and see how they progressed. Is your favourite on it?