In this article, we will introduce you to the top 10 contemporary artists of 2020 who have made a significant impact in the art world. These talented individuals have garnered attention at prestigious art shows and events around the globe. They have not only captured the interest of renowned art collectors and shattered auction records but have also expanded the boundaries of art. They have challenged the public’s perception of art and its boundless power.
The Trend of Portrait Painting
Interestingly, one common thread that ties these artists together is their fascination with portrait painting, a compelling trend in contemporary art.
Matthew Wong: A Tragic Talent
One outstanding artist is the late Matthew Wong, a self-taught Canadian painter who gained recognition for his dramatic landscapes, forests, and still lifes. Despite struggling with autism and depression, Wong’s unique style, influenced by historical periods of painting, captivated audiences worldwide. He combined stylization, vibrant colors, and mystical themes to create introspective and fantastical landscapes. Tragically, Wong took his own life in 2019, shortly after a highly successful solo exhibition in New York. This year, Wong’s artworks have set auction records, with his painting “Homecoming” selling for a staggering VND 9.26 billion.
Amoako Boafo: Celebrating Color
Amoako Boafo, an African symbolist portraitist and painter, currently resides in Vienna, Austria. His work explores the connection between character and texture, placing characters of color at the heart of his art. Boafo’s portrait series aims to represent, document, and acclaim the diverse community of color. By juxtaposing the characters against solid colored backgrounds, he creates a peaceful ambiance while delivering a powerful message. Boafo has received numerous accolades, including the prestigious Walter Koschatzky Kunstpreis prize and the Strabag Price prize.
Titus Kaphar: Unveiling History
American artist Titus Kaphar delves into the history of performance art by bringing innovation to styles and materials. His artwork emphasizes the physical properties and dimensions of fabrics and materials, invoking a deep sense of historical significance. Through his paintings, sculptures, and installations, Kaphar seeks to uncover the timeless nature of history. In addition to his artistic pursuits, Kaphar founded NXTHVN, an arts incubator and residency program based in Connecticut. His work was also featured on the cover of TIME magazine amid the Black Lives Matter protests.
Mequitta Ahuja: Constructing Identity
Mequitta Ahuja, an African-American and South Asian-American painter from Connecticut, creates powerful and captivating artworks that explore identity construction. Drawing inspiration from various sources, including Mughal manuscripts, Buddhist wall paintings, and Western art, Ahuja incorporates different modes of representation into her work. Her thought-provoking paintings raise pertinent questions about image production and art history. Ahuja was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018.
Petrit Halilaj: Capturing Cultural Identity
Petrit Halilaj, a Kosovo-born artist, utilizes his art to study the history and consequences of political and cultural tensions in the region. His works are often deeply personal, reflecting on memory, freedom, cultural identity, and life. Halilaj represented Kosovo at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and his solo exhibition is currently on view at Palacio de Cristal in Madrid. He also withdrew his artwork from the 2020 Belgrade Biennale due to concerns about how his nationality was presented.
Geneve Figgis: Dark Humor and Social Commentary
Geneve Figgis’s artworks exude an eerie, rococo atmosphere with pastel palettes and thick layers of acrylic paint. With a touch of dark humor, Figgis offers biting commentary on society’s state. What started as a social media platform showcase eventually led to recognition by influential individuals in the art world. Figgis’s work is now represented by the Almine Rech gallery in New York.
Ida Ekblad: Expressive Energy
Ida Ekblad, a Norwegian artist, is celebrated for her expressive paintings and concrete sculptures that incorporate diverse materials. Combining performance art, film, and poetry, Ekblad’s works often depict twisting and undulating lines, evoking both people and landscapes. Inspired by various sources, including CoBrA, abstract expressionism, and pop culture, Ekblad creates vibrant and energetic pieces that celebrate movement and bold colors.
Salman Toor: Nostalgia and Realism
As a Pakistani artist, Salman Toor explores the theme of homosexuality through classic portraiture with a nostalgic yet modern twist. His artwork combines academic technique with quick, sketch-like drawings, offering insights into the lives of young black men navigating between New York City and South Asia. Toor’s stories are rooted in personal experiences and incorporate elements of fantasy. His solo show, “Salman Toor: How Will I Know,” was scheduled to debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art but has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tala Madani: Humor and Irony
Tala Madani, an Iranian artist based in Los Angeles, is renowned for her paintings depicting middle-aged men in goofy scenes that blend violence, frustration, adversity, and humor. Rich in irony, Madani’s works explore themes of innocence and infamy, humor and violence, and cultural and sexual identity. The figurative style, combined with elements of modernism, adds depth and complexity to her paintings.
Shara Hughes: Abstracted Landscapes
Contemporary American painter Shara Hughes combines abstraction and expression to create vivid and colorful fictional landscapes. Through the use of texture, pattern, and perspective, Hughes depicts dreamlike spaces that may defy conventional representation. Her artworks can be found in prestigious museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
These ten outstanding contemporary artists have pushed the boundaries of art, captivating audiences with their unique perspectives. Each artist brings a distinct voice to the art world, enriching it with their talent, creativity, and dedication. To explore more about the world of art and its limitless possibilities, visit Caravansarai.