KESHA BRUCE “5 Black and Latino Artists You Need to Know”

15 Dec

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5 black and Latino artists you need to know

At Miami’s Art Basel, a new, more diverse crop of talent is on the rise.

BY COREY CHALUMEAU DEC 9, 2015

 

IMAGE VIA GETTY / THADDAEUS MCADAMS

Every December, artists and aficionados alike hit up Miami for a week of shows, events, and hobnobbing with the 1 percent.

For enthusiasts, Art Basel marks the winter reunion of the global art world; for socialites, it means a week’s worth of free booze, elaborate parties, and the chance to network with top influencers.

Regardless of what draws you to the 305, Art Basel’s primary purpose is to celebrate artists. But since the art world is widely known for its classism and elitism, we had to wonder: How much diversity would be present on art’s biggest stage? After perusing Art Basel’s most high-profile shows—Pulse, Scope, Aqua, and Basel—it’s clear that artists and gallery owners of color remain underrepresented.

Luckily, NTRSCTN managed to find five artists who break the mostly white mold, and present diverse narratives.

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Original photos and interviews by Corey Chalumeau​

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  • 1. Michi Meko
  • Hometown: Florence, Alabama
    Currently lives in: Atlanta
    Where to find his work: AlanAveryArtCompany.com

    Thoughts on his art: “The overall narrative I’m interested in is Southern culture and contemporary underground culture, and where those two aesthetics meet. But it’s also of an exploration into blackness and its identity in that Southernness.”

  • Latest project: “Buoyancy” explores themes involving water, specifically tackling the stereotype that black people can’t swim. It also comments on Meko​’s previous experience as a fisherman.
  • Why he matters: As a multidisciplinary artist, Meko works with different media to portray black heroes post-slavery, choosing to shed light on a more positive element of blackness rather than focusing on the trauma of the slave narrative. He utilizes a trapped-out aesthetic, visible in projects like Gourds, The Job of Resurrectors, and We Been Gold, which helps his work resonate with a younger audience.

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  • 2. Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic
  • Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Currently lives in: Brooklyn
    Where to find his workAerosynlex.com
  • Why he matters: Mestrovic is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. One of his most recent paintings was also shown at and later donated to the White House. Mestrovic collaborates with some of the world’s best-known brands and personalities, including Kenzo, Nike, Diesel, Public School, and artist Jeff Koons.
  • Latest project: A multi-piece installation called “Paper View,”  in collaboration with digital company MOO, which celebrates works made entirely from paper.
  • Thoughts on his art: “You come to these art fairs, and everyone’s trying to scream as loud as possible to grab your attention. But I believe the work I’m able to do is something a little more reserved. If you really dig, there’s a lot more to it, a deeper conversation there, which is throughout all of my work—whether it be for a women’s collection (like the one I’m designing in Japan), or the tour visuals I did for Kanye West, or the short film I worked on for UK’s Channel 4 and Protein London as part of theRandom Acts arts platform.”

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  • 3. Kesha Bruce
  • Hometown: Pella, Iowa
    Currently lives in: Paris
    Where to find her work: KeshaBruce.com
  • Latest project: A collection of paintings entitled “The Guardians,” which is a solemn tribe of mysterious beings who act as watchers, keepers, and protectors. The idea came to Bruce when she “awoke in the early morning hours to witness a figure hovering at the foot of her bed.” That moment conjured up many emotions for Bruce, including fascination, terror, and wonder—themes on which she has focused over the past three years.
  • Thoughts on her art: “The work I’m doing right now is focused on contemporary spirituality, but what I’m most interested in is personal mythology and the magical spiritual belief in the African diaspora, as well as people’s belief systems and personal belief systems. The paintings I’m working on now are my own magical symbols that are personal just to me, that belong to no other religion or spiritual system.”

    Why she matters: Bruce has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, theVermont Studio Center, and French creative center CAMAC. She also received a Puffin Foundation grant for her work with Artist’s Books. Bruce’s art is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s permanent collection.

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  • 4. Alejandro Salazar
  • Hometown: Colima, Mexico
    Currently lives in: Miami
    Where to find his work:JennyGreenGallery.com
  • Why he matters: Salazar says he is determined to portray his Latin roots in his work, and to spark meaningful conversation as a result.
  • Latest project: His paintingTres Pescados(“Three Fish” in Spanish) comments on excessive consumption, and the role it plays in a society where people are constantly baited by advertising and marketing—much like how humans bait fish.
  • Thoughts on his art: “I think art should have many purposes beyond just the creating. There’s a lot work out here that doesn’t speak to me—it’s not made with your hands, so it has no spirit. You can tell it’s flat; its only purpose is to decorate. I feel works—especially those that are made through painting—should serve a purpose beyond just decoration.”

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  • 5. Gregory Saint Amand a.k.a. GoGo
  • Hometown: New York, but raised in Haiti
    Currently lives in: Manhattan
    Where to find his work: IKnowGoGo.com
  • Why he matters: Amand currently has work featured in the corporate collection of hedge fund Red Alder, and his first solo show will kick off later this winter. In just two years, Amand has presented his work at two of the biggest fairs at Art Basel; last year, he showed at Miami’s Red Dot Art Fair and this year, his work was on display at contemporary art show Scope.

    Latest project: “Kitty Face,” a painting inspired by a trip to China during which Amand​ saw impressive graffiti that felt familiar, but couldn’t translate. Instead of getting frustrated, he decided to use the graffiti as his backdrop, and then adds an urban figure (e.g. a young black girl or a black male boxer) to either cause tension, or see if the two can blend together seamlessly.

  • Thoughts on his art: “My art is about juxtaposing elements that we don’t think match, and then putting them together to see how seamlessly they live together. I think that nine out of 10 times, us human beings are so much alike. We’re doing these things in different cultures, but when you see it on a canvas, it just works. Visually, we all speak similar languages.”

Click HERE to view the article in full.

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by KESHA BRUCE.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787, mortonfineart@gmail.com, http://www.mortonfineart.com

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