It goes without saying that our dear city has long been home to some of the most creative, innovative thinkers around, nurturing and bolstering everyone from the YBAs to the authoritive figures steering some of the globe’s most influential galleries.
But here at ES, we believe it’s time to acknowledge the newer, lesser known and overlooked champions shaping modern London with their voices, canvasses and belief in underrepresented talent. So without further ado, let us introduce the 31 influential movers, shakers and picture makers you need to get to know now.
Since graduating from the RCA in 2017, Fadojutimi’s colourful, immersive, beautifully abstract paintings characterised by the artist’s emotion-fuelled brush strokes and often inspired by nature, have catapulted her to global recognition, making her the youngest artist to be acquired by Tate back in 2017 and a standout at last year’s Venice Biennale. Now represented by global giant Gagosian, which also represents Damien Hirst and Frank Ghery, it’s safe to say we can expect a major show any time now.
Since his 2021 Paradise Edict exhibition at the RA, this Kenyan painter hasn’t taken a breath. Don’t believe me? He’s been commissioned by The Royal Mint to design a new £1 coin, become a Royal Academician, won the South Bank Sky Arts Visual Art Award and had a tapestry acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. As well as producing vivid, dreamlike works inspired by the news, pop culture and his birthplace, Kenya, he’s also the founder of the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute, which hosts and nurtures burgeoning East African artists — and, by default, introduces them to the UK, the place he also calls home.
Having graduated from Brighton University in 2019, Caister is just getting started. As well as the universal adoration of millions, winning Sky Arts 2022 Portrait Artist of the Year secured her the chance to paint Sir Lenny Henry’s likeness, which now sits in the National Portrait Gallery. She’s a candidate for the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30: Arts & Culture list and whose tender works have been snapped up by the Soho House group, so get your hands on what you can asap.
The definition of a tour de force, you’ll likely recognise the British Ghanaian visual artist and actor Agyepong from at least one of her breadth of projects. Not content to sit back after winning plaudits for her photography series Wish You Were Here — an ode to famed Victorian ‘cakewalker’ Aida Overton Walker — she also starred in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at the Lyric Theatre, Amazon Prime Video’s The Power and publicly challenged MoMa on racially insensitive practices earlier this year.
Andrew Pierre Hart
With a focus on exploring the relationship between sound and painting, Pierre Hart not only captures hearts with his large, ‘spontaneous’ (his words) works of people, landscapes and mantras but also educates the city’s talent with talks at Slade, Chelsea College of Arts and Tate. Keep an eye out for his recent commission for Whitechapel Gallery, which will go on show in February.
You might not have heard his name, but you’re guaranteed to have seen the culmination of his work as founder and artistic director of Circa Art, which has placed works by David Hockney, Michèle Lamy, Ai Weiwei, Pussy Riot and the Dalai Lama on huge digital billboards including at Piccadilly Circus. The best bit? It’s raised over £600,000 for the creative community by selling limited editions of these artists’ works online.
Her omnipresence is such that you likely know Katy Hessel. This art historian, author, Guardian columnist, podcaster and curator is the creator of The Great Women Artists podcast and Instagram account, author of best-selling book The Story of Art Without Men and revolutionary who challenged the mainstream to rethink art history by considering the female perspective. Need I say more?
If you’ve spied a new edition of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, then this graphic artist’s bold, colourful and eternally clever works are probably burned into your psyche. Having illustrated projects for acclaimed publications the Evening Standard, The Economist and The Guardian and big- hitters Rolls Royce and La Pettegola wine, Bar’s work is as inescapable as it is delightful.
Sin Wai Kin
Formally known as Victoria Sin, non- binary performance artist Sin is challenging preordained cultural rules around desire, identification and objectification using ethereal drag-like personas. The artist was nominated for the 2022 Turner prize and asked to present at Art Basel earlier this year, so be sure to secure a glimpse into their thought process on 16 November when they will be in conversation with musician Planningtorock at the Barbican.
Interdisciplinary artist, poet and film-maker Julianknxx communicates what it istobeapartofthe African diaspora with stunning, wholly touching clarity. His current solo show titled Chorus in Rememory of Flight at the Barbican, not only explores the experience, but inspires proactive dialogue through singing. Meanwhile, be sure to snap up tickets to a live performance at St James’s Church on 14 October, a similar work that commemorates the 250th anniversary of the baptism of prominent abolitionist Quobna Ottobah Cugoano.
Phoebe Saatchi Yates and Arthur Yates
Call yourself an avid ES Magazine reader? Cast your eyes back to the 8 September issue and you’ll remember our striking cover by Will St John — one of many talented artists these gallery owners represent. The couple, who established themselves as the go-to for the hottest under-represented artists in 2020, are going from strength to strength, having recently moved to an attractive new gallery on Bury St and set the date for an exhibition featuring the brilliant Elena Garrigolas. All we can say is: watch this space.
Zina Vieille and Nnamdi Obiekwe
There are often huge barriers to entry in the creative industries and the cost of studio space is one of them. This duo are the creators of VO Curations, which seeks to give emerging artists access to spaces from as little as £150 per month, plus support in developing exhibitions, events and residencies.
As an attempt to push back against the constraints of the art industry, in 2020 curator Tajudeen launched the Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture, an alternative art resource created to educate anyone who’s interested in the work of historically marginalised communities and empower those who may not feel seen. Sign up for the school’s fourth collaboration project with Art on the Underground, a four-week course that explores resilience in an ever-changing and challenging political landscape.
Going by the name of Studio Lenca, over the past few years this El Salvadorian artist based in Tracey Emin’s studio in Margate has become one of the most prolific painters in the UK. After an unsettling childhood fleeing the civil war and later as an ‘illegal’ immigrant in the United States, Campos’s vibrant, figurative paintings reflect his experience, depicting proud, defiant members of his community standing tall against prejudice. Naturally, we love it.
With not one but two retrospectives at Tate Britain over recent years, Yiadom-Boakye’s intimate, mysterious portraits of imaginary characters in warm, cosseting tones have pulled Londoners into her embrace and shot her to superstardom. Her Instagram is the place to go to discover the next big thing, as she’s constantly praising other artists.
If you’ve found yourself wondering who dreamt up the now iconic Pan African-inspired Westminster London Underground sign, here he is. Achiampong, who has more strings to his bow than most, explores the relationship between pop culture and colonisation through a mix of film, still imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance, objects and sound, unpicking everything from video games to the representation of biblical figures. Carve out time to see Wayfinder, his Bafta-nominated film about one young woman’s encounters while travelling through the UK.
An ex-model, curator Siddick founded Purslane art when she discovered that many artists usually receive only 20 to 50 per cent of the sale price of their works. Her platform, which she says promotes ‘collecting with a conscience’, allows artists the opportunity to keep much more of the profits, while redirecting its cut to charitable causes such as the National Network of Abortion Funds and Women for Refugee Women.
Eileen Cooper, OBE
At 70, artist Cooper is anything but a newbie, though the enduring charm of her whimsical, figurative work still quietly dominates London’s art scene. Formerly the first-ever woman ‘Keeper’ at the RA, whose job it was to ensure equality among entries and members, she changed the culture of the art institution for good and year after year, her fan base grows thanks to her unfaltering and captivating presence in the RA Summer Exhibition. Now no longer part of the RA schools, keep an eye out for her work in the upcoming Tate Britain exhibition, Women in Revolt!
Joe Scotland, MBE
As director of one of London’s most important art charities, Studio Voltaire, Scotland has got his work cut out. After joining the Clapham-based institution 20 years ago and becoming head honcho in 2010, he has since overseen milestones including its expansion, the introduction of the city’s now ubiquitous LGBTQ+ blue plaques and tens of projects nurturing underrepresented artists. In short: he’s our hero.
Despite being based in Philadelphia, ex-video game designer Wood has made a big impact on the London art scene thanks to her recent exhibition at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, which introduced the capital to a whole new type of tapestry. Using the ancient art form to examine the Black, queer femme experience in the digital sphere, it’s no surprise that MoMa has already acquired one of the 27-year-old’s works for its permanent collection.
You might want to take a deep breath before you start reading the long list of Woolford’s gifts because there are, to put it mildly, many. The abstract ‘transdisciplinary’ artist in residence at the Tate channels his energy into ‘confronting experiences of violence, aggression, and misalignment’ using performance, painting, sculpture, sound, video, installations and textiles, as well as mentoring emerging creatives at the Royal College of Art and lecturing at University of the Arts London. If youfind yourself in Blackpool, make a beeline for his work at Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2023 at the GrundyArt Gallery.
It’s no exaggeration to say that historian, curator and writer Emelife is something of a celebrity. A curator at the Museum of West African Art and contibuting editor at Elle UK, between flying around the world to check out the hottest new talent and writing for the Financial Times she was recently chosen to curate the Nigeria Pavilion at next year’s Venice Biennale and curated the Black Venus show at Somerset House this year.
India Rose James
Yes, yes, she might be the heiress of Soho, but James has a nose for talent and puts her money where her mouth is. As the founder of Soho Revue Gallery, she and her all-female team focus on supporting emerging female and marginalised artists, giving them a platform to exhibit their work in the very centre of town.
In the words of ES Magazine editor, Ben Cobb: ‘I wish I’d snapped his work up sooner.’ Eccentric ex-model Rouy’s hazy, abstract bodies and soft-focus faces communicate movement and the relatable blur of human memory with fervent energy. Due to unprecedented demand, he’s already published a book of selected works from his career so far (2017-2023). What’s next? We wait with baited breath...
As a graduate of Oxford, the Courtauld Institute and Harvard Business School, it goes without saying that Appleyard is a formidable force. The director of development and business innovation at the Royal Academy of Arts and a friend of Marina AbramoviÄ, she’s the hustler in charge of crucial partnerships and fundraising for the RA, enabling it to keep providing excellent, affordable exhibitions.
Joseph Ijoyemi and Lison Sabrina Musset
Tired of watching under-represented artists struggle, this duo founded The Collective Makers. A community designed to promote the work of creatives who may have come up against career difficulties, they partner with large groups such as Somerset House and the British Council for maximum impact. Their latest project, Our Connection to Water at The National Maritime Museum, involves the works of seven from the collective.
Often hailed as ‘the new Basquiat’, Colombian artist Murillo’s career went bonkers when one of his rich, frenetic, abstract paintings sold for more than 13 times its listing priceat a New York auction. Known for sometimes working on a painting for multiple years at a time, in 2019 he was one of the four artists who won that year’s Turner Prize. His next show, Together In Our Spirits, opens in Porto next month, which, if you ask me, is a fabulous excuse for an Iberian excursion.
As the founding director of the not-for-profit Delfina Foundation, since 2007 Cezar has helped emerging and established artists reach their peak capabilities by facilitating artistic collaboration, research and communication through accessible studio space and a huge variety of exhibitions and global partnerships. Known to have sat on the Turner judging panel and organising the Venice Biennale opening and closing performances, he’s most certainly someone to get to know.