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Art Basel original European art fair in Basel, Switzerland, opens its doors to the public once again tomorrow, bringing center-stage an array of up-and-coming artists to the art fair. But in addition to sectors such as “Statements” dedicated entirely to younger, emerging names, there’s much to discover in the fair’s other sectors such as “Unlimited,” and in the city’s museums and non-profit institutions.
At the start of their careers, most of these artists are surely making significant strides in the contemporary art scene. Here are the ones to watch in Basel this year:
1. Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
The artist duo is part of a larger movement of artists with a background in music, who look to break away from the confines of medium specificity by experimenting with the immersive potential of sound, image, and environment. Abbas and Abou-Rahme live and work in New York and Ramallah. Both aged 33, they have already participated in biennials including the 12th Sarjah Biennial and the 2010 Liverpool Biennial. Abbas and Abou-Rahme were the recipients of the 2015 Sarjah Biennial Prize, which praises artists for their contribution to the cultural landscape of Sharjah and the Middle East. The duo’s importance in the young contemporary art scene is both marked by their experimentation with mediums in the post-image era as well as their role in bringing the Middle East into the often Western-centric contemporary art discourse.
2. Ketuta Alexi-Meskhisvilli
Part of a larger movement of artists who focus on the photograph as a three-dimensional, sculptural object, Alexi-Meskhisvilli uses photography in a self-referential fashion, and as objects from which to create new images rather than flat, finished pieces. The young photographer has had solo shows in both New York’s Andrea Rosen Gallery and Berlin’s Galerie Micky Schubert. She was one of the participating artists in New York’s 2015 New Museum Triennial and appeared in various other group shows in New York, Berlin, and Belgium. Photography becomes a tricky subject in the age of digital reproduction and Alexi-Meskhisvilli, who will be features in the Statements sector, is one of the artists to watch when it comes to keeping this powerful medium afloat in the contemporary art world.
3. Sol Calero
Venezuelan artist Sol Calero created large-scale installations ranging from restaurants and salsa dance halls, to hair salons and cyber-cafes. The work’s importance lies in its successful incorporation of non-Western culture, and serves as is a vehicle for a culture with limited visibility to permeate more freely through Western society. Nonetheless, it remains true that Calero left Venezuela to study and produce art. She therefore also stands as testimony of the important truth that while art can promote diversity, the depiction of Non-Western cultures is often doomed to exist within the confines of Western conventions.
4. Nina Canell
Swedish-born Canell abolishes the stereotype of sculpture as strictly material by emphasizing its restless possibilities. In her work matter and non-matter become one, highlighting the elusive nature of existence. Apart from exhibiting in galleries internationally, Canell has also previously participated in large events such as Manifesta 7, The European Biennale for Contemporary art in Trentino, and the 7th Gwangju Biennale. She is participating in Art Basel’s show “UNLIMITED” curated by Gianni Jetzer, which gives artists the opportunity to exhibit large scale works within the context of an art fair, where often smaller artworks in easily consumable mediums are favored. Canell offers the interesting possibility of altering sculpture to revive its relevance and offer a fresh take on an ever-evolving medium.
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