Heike Dempster’s Top Picks | Miami Beach 2020

UNTITLED, ART is pleased to introduce a new series of curated selections from the art fair. Cultural tastemakers, international curators, gallerists, and local collectors will be tapped to share their picks from the Online Viewing Rooms of UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach 2020.

Today’s highlighted selection comes from Heike Dempster, art writer and PR Manager at the National YoungArts Foundation. Below, her top picks from the ninth edition of UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach.

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My writing, studies and research are predominately focused on the Caribbean, Africa and the Diaspora, which strongly influences the art and artists I personally collect. Once the art is in your home you engage with it not just visually on a daily basis. Any subject matter the artist investiagtes, or any conceptual considerations that are part of artworks in your home, become part of how you engage with the world around you.

Genesis Tramaine, Catching Fish, Acrylic, Oil sticks, Spray Paint, Yeshua, 2020.

Genesis Tramaine is the current artist in residence at the Rubell Museum in Miami, and is making an impact in the art world with her energetic and multi-faceted portraits that only reveal themselves slowly. They demand an effort from the viewer to engage and work on revealing the layered messaging. I selected Catching Fish at Richard Beavers Gallery as a significant work by the artist, who allows herself to be guided by her faith and prayer, and explores biblical allegory through a vibrant lens of West African culture.

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Devan Shimoyama, Caution to the Wind, oil, colored pencil, glitter, collage, fabric and jewelry on canvas stretched over panel, 2020.

De Buck Gallery represents multiple outstanding artists, which is why I chose three pieces. I have been folllowing Devan Shimoyama’s work for a few years. At Untitled, Art., the gallery has the work Caution to the Wind available, which is from the artist’s DIAMOND series, exploring themes of queerness and Black male identity through a narrative around an imagined all-female band. The work features the artist’s very intentional use of fabric, jewelsy and glitter elements.

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Marielle Plaisir, M.Ali, The Malediction of Cham, Acrylics, inks, Hand made embroidery on canvas, 2020.

De Buck Gallery is also showing work by Miami-based artist Marielle Plaisir. Her historical and philosophical research and artistic explorations of the Biblical story around the curse of Cham resulted in a ongoing series titled “The Malediction of Cham.” The piece I chose is the diptych M.Ali, The Malediction of Cham which features many of the aestheticall and conceptually intriguing, and intellectutally demanding components of Plaisir’s work.

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Hiba Schahbaz, Pink Mountain, Watercolor and tea on paper, 2020.

My third pick from this gallery is Hiba Schahbaz with Pink Mountain. This young Karachi-born and Brooklyn-based painter creates very sensual and intimate depictions of women. Watching her paint is as poetic as her use of tea on paper as a medium.

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Theresa Chromati, In between space… (Note from a scrotum flower: I’ll be with her when she stands again. There to illuminate the way when her darkness wraps tightly. There to offer balance in breath and movement. There until she realizes I am her and she is me. Perhaps she knows, but enjoys the idea of external company), Acrylic and glitter on canvas, 2020.

One of my favorite Theresa Chromati pieces is actually currently on view at Pérez Art Museum Miami. The piece was purchased through the Fund for African American Art. This piece I chose at UNTITLED, ART is In between space… (Note from a scrotum flower: I’ll be with her when she stands again. There to illuminate the way when her darkness wraps tightly. There to offer balance in breath and movement. There until she realizes I am her and she is me. Perhaps she knows, but enjoys the idea of external company). It has a very, very long and descriptive title that I think shares lot about the artist. Such a fascinating amalgam of color, texture, meaning and suggestions.

On view with Kravets Wehby Gallery, Booth B6.

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Adebunmi Gbadebo, A Dilemma of Inheritance: Pages 7, 15, 10, Black hair, cotton, rice paper, and printed photographs on rice paper, 2020.

I first came across Adebunmi Gbadebo’s work at UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach 2019. I had a chance to meet and speak to the artist to learn more about her personal history and how it relates to her current practice and this body of work, A Dilemma of Inheritance. Her use of hair challenges me on multiple levels, and addressing the history of slavery and racism in the United States and the Americas at large is a must. Gbadebo does it in a very personal way that is simultaneously mesmerizingly beautiful yet raw and demanding.

Claire Oliver Gallery — showing also Adebunmi Gbadebo — represents a young Bahamian artist by the name of Gio Swaby. I was first drawn to this artist’s work through her use of thread to sew portraits of women, with additional fabric pieces included in some of her work. I really like the close up portraits that she creates but I am also drawn to Pretty Pretty 1, which invites the viewer to know more about the character by communicating stance, expression, hair style, clothing and accessories as a point of entry. I would also be interested to find out more about the thread and fabric origin and how this medium explores the role of women, or how fashion and fabric is an important communicator of culture.

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Gio Swaby, Pretty Pretty 1, thread and fabric sewn on canvas, 2020.
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Adébayo Bolaji, Transmissions, Mixed media on coarse grain jute canvas, 2020.

London-based artist Adébayo Bolaji actually first caught my eye on Instagram, and I am interested to see more of his work. I chose the work Transmissions from BEERS London (the gallery presents a solo show for Bolaji at UNTITLED, ART.) as I am drawn to the use of mixed media on the jute canvas. The artist trained as an actor and later switched to painting so a lot of his work has performative aspects and qualities. He often uses text and his figurative elements claim agency when they take center-stage.

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Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, High Stakes. Suit 3. No 4., Mixed Media (Paper and acrylic on canvas), 2020.

My last pick is from Guns & Rain, a Johannesburg-based contemporary gallery. This gallery has some great options also for younger collectors to discover up and coming artists from various African countries including Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, a 27-years old artist from Lagos, Nigeria. She works with a technique called quilling, which creates the three-dimensionality that also reflects texturally on the depth of her work exploring gender, power and social structures. I was immediately drawn to High Stakes. Suit 3. No 4.

UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach OVR is open December 2–6, 2020.

Please visit the fair here.

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UNTITLED, ART is an international, curated art fair founded in 2012 that focuses on balance and integrity across all disciplines of contemporary art.

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