This year’s Bushwick Open Studios were as sprawling and eventful as ever. After recovering from last weekend, we’ve taken some time to reflect and asked Hyperallergic editors and contributors to suggest a few artists, none of whom we’ve previously highlighted, to watch. Here’s our list of 10 talented artists that caught our attention and are definitely on our radar.
Christian Ruiz Berman (site)
Born in Mexico, Christian Ruiz Berman makes artworks that are beautifully constructed, often using feathers, mother of pearl, and different types of wood to create these small wall-mounted pieces. They evoke talismans but with a vibrant — almost commercial — slickness that can be jarring when coupled with traditional woodworking, floral forms, and modern abstract elements. Every object is unique, but they clearly share a similar language. Narrative is elusive in Berman’s work, but these pieces evoke so many things, distilled to their essence, that it’s hard not to read into them. —Hrag Vartanian
EJ Hauser (site)
EJ Hauser isn’t based in Bushwick — she’s in Sunset Park — but she has been showing in Bushwick regularly for years. She’s one of the strongest under-the-radar painters in the city, in my opinion, and I don’t know why she isn’t better known, though I suspect it’s partly because she’s constantly exploring new avenues in her work and doesn’t have a branded style, which probably scares the commercial gallery set — be brave, gallerists! Every time I come across a new work by her it feels smart and clear, and she doesn’t seem to have any fear of muddying up her pictorial language; she easily blends representation and abstraction, language with fields of color, and anything else she can visually get away with. —Hrag Vartanian
Rachel Borenstein (site)
Rachel Borenstein’s small and intense quasi-collages of thickly layered inkjet prints evoke Sigmar Polke’s preoccupation with gesture and reproduction, but with a greater anguish of texture and dimensionality. The crisis of representation thus becomes a topographical aggression, as in the mutilations of her untitled inkjet collages (above right), or a suffocating occlusion, as in the surface of “All Theories Are Possible” (2014) (above left). —Mostafa Heddaya
Faren Ziello (site)
Faren Ziello’s obsession with women pouring bleach or detergent of their heads is discomfiting, but when she explained to me that the imagery comes out of some health issues she experienced recently, it all made sense. Lest you think it’s only disease that inspires her, the latest work fits snuggly into her other series, including De-Flowered, Deathpiles, and the cheerfully named Alcoholism, Domestic Violence and Teen Suicide — I’m guessing she’s a blast at parties. Even with a storm cloud of doom lingering over these works, there’s something deeply evocative about them. If I had to describe them, I’d say they resemble Pee Wee’s Playhouse explaining the evening news using fast-paced butoh dance. —Hrag Vartanian
Esther Ruiz (site)
This is a sculptor who can make hydraulic cement and neon — among other things — look like drops of sunshine. Esther Ruiz creates stark sculptures that combine an acid-colored new media sensibility with the coolness of Minimalism. Everything is carefully considered. Her pieces can look like fragments of a much larger work, but also strangely archeological, like relics of some ancient, neon-obsessed culture (if only that existed). I, for one, want to know where she’s going with this. —Hrag Vartanian
Julia Bland (site)
Julie Bland’s organic geometries introduce the fluency of craft to the austerity of abstraction. In her large textile works, Bland develops a thoughtful geometric vocabulary, earthbound yet loosely spiritual. I was particularly taken with “Untitled” (2013) (above), a beguiling agglomeration of circles and six-pointed stars that evinces an impressive discipline of surface and form. —Mostafa Heddaya
Charlotte Becket (site)
There’s something deeply goth about Charlotte Becket’s “breathing” sculptures (my word, not hers) and their slow movement. They evoke the power of a sleeping dragon or some other mythological beast before it unleashes a mysterious power. Becket discusses her kinetic sculptures in this video interview and says they deal with “a hybrid state of body and landscape.” That also explains why they seem immediately familiar but also hallucinatory as they shift before your eyes. —Hrag Vartanian
Amanda Gale (site)
Amanda Gale creates sculptures with robotic components — for example, a moving arm flailed on the wall of her studio during Bushwick Open Studios [“untitled #1” (2012)]. It moved around in irregular spurts, both responding and failing to respond to stimuli. Her low-fi robotics with their jagged motions might at first appear crude, but that’s the point. As she explained to Hyperallergic, “There’s something about the motion of the arm … Something about how parts of our body function … The machine will never have the same fluid motion.” As our lives become more entwined with robotic technology like Siri, we become more aware of the questions that Siri can’t answer. By revealing robots’ inabilities, Gale hits upon what it means to be human. —Daniel Larkin
Rory Baron (site)
In his apocryphal talismans, Rory Baron combines a black-and-white palette with an uncanny sculptural geometry, imbricating architecture and archetypes. Though the work is remarkably original, there’s an ineffable debt to Mike Kelley’s suburban shamanism; like Kelley, Baron’s pieces emote with distant urgency. Symmetrical assemblages of familiar materials and accents (shingles, molding, etc.) take on a singular and dark weight (a square of black, a pinecone, etc.) to achieve a communicative strangeness. —Mostafa Heddaya
This may be an unlikely pick, but I really want to acknowledge the art of MRToll, who has been making work on the streets of North Brooklyn for years, including in Bushwick (some of his pieces have been there for months and are not unique to BOS). This is an artist who marches to his own drum — whether it’s an octopus eating a pizza, an overturned ice cream cone, an image of the world melting, or, in the case of the image here (from Charles Place), an egg-eyed and bacon-lipped face on the wall. Very few people do street sculptures as well as MRToll, and his commitment to creating diverse work (and not selling any of it, from what I’ve been able to tell over the years) makes him a standout in a field filled with artists concerned with gallery representation and cool websites. I hope more people look out for his street pieces and appreciate his radically fun imagination. —Hrag Vartanian
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