Think you don’t understand art? Style.com/Arabia is here to prove you wrong. We introduce you to ten cutting edge artists whose work has everything to do with our everyday lives and loves. Here’s your private, guided art tour.
Katerina Plotnikova (RUSSIA)
The Russian surrealist photographer blew up the blogosphere last year with her series of charming self-portraits with forest animals. The most incredible part of these shots is that they do not involve any Photoshop effects whatsoever—only the help of some particularly gentle critters and their willing trainers.
Fab Ciraolo (CHILE)
The Santiago-based illustrator brings deceased pop culture icons back to life in the guise of today’s hipsters. Perhaps you’ve seen his resurrection of Frida Kahlo as a Daft Punk fan?
Aya Takano (JAPAN)
The wildly popular young artist is already well-established in exclusive art circles and is part of the Superflat movement, which was started by Murakami himself and is heavily influenced by Japanese manga comics and anime. Takano paints and sketches dreamy adolescent girls with comical heads.
Martin Wittfooth (USA)
The Canadian painter who has made New York City his home, uses traditional technique with oil paints to encourage the viewer to consider the long-term impact of global warming, uncontrolled wastefulness, and other modern day threats. While work on these topics could be patronizing and unattractive, Wittfooth manages to entice us with surprising elements of beauty and magic.
The inexhaustible Parisian street artist formally named Christian Guémy, goes by his graffiti tag C215 and his work typically features color saturated close ups of everyday people’s faces. His graffs are remarkably realistic due to a very refined use of stencils and a sophisticated understanding of shadow.
Abdulnasser Gharem (KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA)
The army officer turned conceptual artist revolutionized the state of the Middle East’s art market when his installation, Message/Messenger broke sales records at the Christie’s 2011 auction, selling for an unprecedented US$ 842,500 (AED/SAR 3,094,464), making Gharem the highest-selling Gulf artist. Rather than let the fame go to his head, the artist raised awareness for the developing Saudi art scene by donating all proceeds to educational programs for youth in his country’s schools on behalf of Edge of Arabia, a not-for-profit of which Gharem is a founding member.
This Shanghai-born collective is comprised of experimental photographers, Ji Weiyu and Song Tao, who are known for composing images of mundane details of daily life in their hometown. Birdhead subtly mocks our globalized social media and selfie-obsessed culture and gives a glimpse into a fast-rising generation of young Chinese artists that cannot be ignored.
Ian Strange/Kid Zoom (AUSTRALIA)
An exact replica of Strange’s home recently crashed down Wizard of Oz style in front of the Art Gallery of South Australia, just in time for the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. The soot and rubble covered bungalow playfully explores the isolation of the suburbs, and brought international recognition to the multi-talented mixed media artist who is also widely respected for his street art tag, Kid Zoom.
Mary Sibande (SOUTH AFRICA)
The artist’s alter ego is a domestic worker named Sophie, who is dressed in a frilly maid’s uniform with hints of other more powerful identities from Superman to a Zulu Queen. Sophie (who is modeled after Sibande herself), draws attention to the lack of economic possibilities even after the disintegration of Apartheid.
Tatiana Blass (BRAZIL)
In a nod to Homer’s loyal wife Penelope (who took up weaving as a symbol of her devotion to her husband while he was away on a 20-year adventure), the artist created an aesthetically breathtaking installation of the same name, filling an iconic São Paulo chapel and its garden with a tapestry of red chenille strings. Blass has since gone onto be shortlisted as one of Art+Auction’s “50 Most Collectible Artists Under 50” and has produced a solo show at one of New York’s most elite galleries, Johannes Vogt.