20 Artists for 2020

Didi Menendez
Dec 31, 2019 · 7 min read

from the art community at PoetsArtists

Social media is imploding. Hashtags are not working out as well since Artificial Intelligence is automatically describing the subjects found in an image to the algorithms and placing in feeds so followers who are interested in the subject matter may view them first. Having too many hashtags when posting on Instagram is actually telling AI that you may be spamming.

With shadowbanning some artwork doesn’t even show up. Since this is the case we need to figure out new ways to share our artwork and one way is for each of us to take extra time to really and experience the art either in person or by writing about it, or sharing a link to a post you really liked with your friends and followers and discussing it further with your followers.

Here are twenty artists who I feel really have made a difference in the art community of our group at PoetsArtists and you may have missed because your algorithm may not have placed it in your feed or you may have flipped too quickly past them to give it a heart.

Vicki Sullivan lives in Australia. Her richly colored figurative oil paintings aim to convey a sense of positive emotion and feeling to the viewer revealing elements of her subjects’ personalities besides her own. While depicting contemporary subjects, her method is inspired by 19th Century Realism. Her work involves glazing many layers making the colors rich and glowing as if from the inside and it takes several months to complete a single artwork.

Alessandro Tomassetti is a Canadian living in Barcelona. His bold paintings of contemporary men combines his naturalistic rendering style with a tenebrous palette and dramatic lighting to create works which are at once seductive and subversive. Rather than presenting his male subjects as mythological heroes or captains of industry, Tomassetti paints to reveal their vulnerability and sensitivity. From the pose and styling to the glints of light and reflection captured in his brushwork, Tomassetti’s work manifests an intimacy most often seen in paintings of female subjects. By eschewing historic expectations — where men were typically viewers of such portraits rather than the subjects, Tomassetti’s oil paintings invite the viewer to explore and appreciate shades of contemporary masculinity outside of the norm.

Alessandro is now represented by RJD Gallery in New York while continuing to participate in our growing art community at PA.

Aixa Oliveras is a contemporary symbolist painter working within the realm of classical realism. Her work focuses on the female figure, paired with pattern and symbolic use of color. Through her oil paintings, she creates metaphorical narratives of rebirth and identity based on events of her own life. Her work explores what it means to let go of one previous identity in order to create a new one. Originally from Puerto Rico, Aixa is currently developing her studio practice in Laguna Beach, California. She will be moving to Texas in the summer of 2020.

Viktoria Savenkova lives in Belarus. Her portrait of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was commissioned by TIME magazine for their end of the year issue highlighting influential leaders. Her work was acquired by the MEAM in Barcelona earlier this year after showing in PAINTING TODAY for International Women’s Day.

Shana Levenson lives in New Mexico with her husband David Jon Kassan. The dynamic duo are very popular with social media while independently working on separate projects. Shana was also commissioned by TIME magazine this year for a portrait of an influential leader. She is primarily a representational oil painter whose work focuses on portraiture and the figure. Her self-portraits are the main subject in many of her artwork focusing on family life including her own children in the portrayal of motherhood. Her series of hyperrealistic portraits of HIV survivors adds to the depth of her reach in contemporary realism. Her current work incorporates lace dresses along with surrealistic elements to highlight the strength and beauty of the female form.

Mary Chiaramonte lives in Virginia. Her figurative realism offers a narrative which echoes a provocative daydream, communicating both the human disposition and the mysteries therein. Her unending exploration surfaces in her oil paintings with ambiguity which draws the viewer into her world.

Pegah Samaie lives in California. Her art moves through the shadow of her past life. She uses art as a tool to face the experiences she and other women have encountered in a culture dominated by patriarchal governments and households. Her early experiences in Iran changed her perception of the role of women in society; they motivated her and influenced her way of expressing her feelings about women and their experience.

Daire Lynch lives in Ireland. His work is dark and mysterious. He takes to the woods often to hunt and fish. His figurative oil paintings bring across the humanity and emotional connection of being prey in a critical society we are currently experiencing with social media.

Lucas Bononi lives in New York. His contemporary figurative oil paintings reflect today’s beauty and the chaos of our desertion of the human experience through updated sociological norms. With this exploration of ontology Lucas wishes to invite the spectator to discover and interact with his current series titled “The Forest”. He made the cover of American Art Collector in October of 2019.

Devon Rodriguez lives in the Bronx. His paintings of unsuspecting New York subway toll passengers made it into a New York Times (NewYork Times) article in 2019. New York honored his oil painting by placing images of the atwork at various streets. His portrait of his mentor John Ahearn is currently showing at the Smithsonian for the Outwin Boochever Prize.

Grant Gilsdorf lives in Ohio. While it is difficult to place his work in the lane of a singular genre, his spellbinding paintings combine elements of realism, symbolism, and portraiture. When combining his subject’s gaze with the symbolism, or “clues” (as the artist calls them) found within each piece, viewers discover greater narratives hidden within the paintings.

Heather Brunetti lives in Louisville. She is an emerging figurative artist best known for her dark and moody oil portraits. Many of her artworks depict brooding children. She is taking some of that sensitivity of childlike emotional connections to her depictions in adult subjects.

Patrick Earl Hammie lives in the Midwest. He is a visual artist who uses figuration, across traditional media including oil painting, drawing, and sculpture, to examine past and present black diasporic experiences and think through themes related to cultural identity, social equity, narrative, and the body in visual culture. His work is in various public and private collections.

Yunior Hurtado Torres is a Cuban living in Peru. Most of his oil paintings have handwriting and sometimes braille included which allows the viewer to connect with the diaspora of his subjects many times reflecting the devastated city of Havana in the sunglasses of his lively subjects.

Kathrin Longhurst lives in Australia. Raised behind the curtain wall of Germany, her work depicts the displacement and contrast of being on the two sides of a propaganda society. Her feminist oil paintings sometimes include flying Tampons as bombs and other perphenia of a world where the female is in charge.

Michael Bergt lives in New Mexico. He is a figurative artist whose work has been in a deep dialogue with art history over the course of his more than thirty-year career. Working across drawing, sculpture, and primarily egg tempera painting, he has had major exhibitions in New York, San Francisco and Santa Fe. His works are in the permanent collection of: The Arnot Museum, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Crystal Bridges Museum, Currier Museum, Evansville Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco — de Young Museum, Frye Art Museum, Kalamazoo, Museum.

Megan Read lives in Virginia. Her highly refined figurative and still life paintings have the subjects placed in dark, vast environments giving the viewer a glimpse into calm, contemplative worlds. Her quiet shadowy works revolve around traditional elements like flowers or the nude figure but often include contemporary references to brands and splashes of color and modernity which create a sense of surprise. Working in oil at large scale her paintings explore the concepts of human expansion, contraction, vulnerability, armor and other contradictory themes such as the perpetual or constant versus the transitory and contemporary.

Michele Ann Murtaugh lives in California. In her figurative narrative paintings, her subjects address the current condition of human intimacy, the desire of it and the lack of it. She combines realist human form with surrealistic atmospheric nuances to give the viewer the feeling of being in the subconscious. Her large scale oil paintings combine delicate, refined and crude brush work to intensify the psychological contradiction of surrender with immediacy and impatience. Her subjects are often nude or costumed in inorganic fantastic materials. They can be found masked or uncomfortably gazing back at the viewer. The paintings mirror our beautiful and imperfect attempt to connect and be accepted.

Sergio Gomez lives in Indiana. He is known for his large scale figurative abstraction paintings and drawings which focus on the cycles of life. His life size figures are created in series and based on a specific theme or idea. He depicts the human form as a silhouette, aura, shadow or trace of his own body. Gomez’s multiple textures, drips, splashes, patterns and vibrant colors honor flesh and physicality while his alluded figures celebrate humanity and spirituality. Besides his ongoing cycles of life series, his paintings occasionally explore social and political, and contemporary issues.

Mark Heine lives in Vancouver. In the span of his 35 year career, he has come to realize he’s a storyteller. Writing has long been an integral part of his creative process. His writing drives his painting and his painting inspires his writing. Bringing one of his stories to life … to larger than life, is the focus of his current project entitled Sirens. Each of the paintings in his Sirens series, is the visualization of a key moment in his coming Sirens book, a work of fiction in the genre of magical realism. This environmental tale, which examines humankind’s ambiguous and destructive relationship with the world’s oceans, is a contemporary re-interpretation of the femme fatale made famous in Homer’s Odyssey.


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