5 Emerging Galleries to Watch at the New York Art Fairs

Art Market

Ayanna Dozier

May 8, 2023 4:51PM

Installation view of Independent New York, 2019. Photo by Etienne Frossard. Courtesy of Peres Projects and Independent New York.

April showers bring May flowers…and the New York art fairs. Spread over two weeks, New York Art Week 2023 will provide ample opportunity for audiences to visit several staggering fairs, auctions, and exhibitions. The events are largely organized around Frieze, which runs from May 17th–21st and is in its 11th year. In addition, TEFAF (May 11th–16th) has also been a staple for attracting collectors and enthusiasts interested in work from established 20th- and 21st-century artists.

With these two mammoth events, it may be easy for audiences to overlook the less high-profile fairs that spotlight smaller galleries. These include 1-54 (May 18th–21st), NADA (May 18th–21st), Independent (May 11th–14th), and Future Fair (May 10th–13th). These fairs support emerging galleries and artists, and can be a wonderful opportunity for discovering rising artists and galleries championing new styles.

Below, we spotlight five small galleries to look out for at the New York art fairs.

Margot Samel, New York



At Independent, New York–based Margot Samel will present a solo booth of craft-based works from abstract artist Merike Estna. Estna is known for her expanded paintings that blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Working across a vibrant color palette, Estna’s figurative abstract paintings center on the process as their form rather than formalizing the act of process itself. This distinction means that Estna’s work experiments freely and often with figuration, shape, texture, composition, pattern, and style.

For Estna, this constant push toward experimentation and difference functions as a critique of masculine styles from the history of painting, which push to standardize formalism. As such, Estna’s imagery and expansion into painting and onto pottery also seek to bridge the gap between the discourse of craft and painting that have historically been gendered as women’s and men’s work, respectively. In the artist’s latest work, on view at Independent, her “candy-colored” abstractions take on the patterns and shapes found across quilts, ceramics, baskets, and other craft-based objects.

de boer, Los Angeles

NADA New York

At NADA, the Los Angeles–based gallery de boer will present a group of contemporary paintings and mixed-media works by several artists: Sara Carter, Kirsten Deirup, Rashawn Griffin, Delphine Hennelly, Marc Horowitz, Matthew Kirk, Alex McQuilkin, Azikiwe Mohammed, Dominic Musa, Grace Rosario Perkins, Brad Phillips, Rachel Sharpe, and Noelia Towers.

Although many of the artists work across different styles, some, such as Towers, Horowitz, Deirup, and Sharpe, offer fresh perspectives on paintings, working within the realist tradition. This somewhat photorealistic style allows artists to represent darker impulses of still lifes and figurations that foreground the senses. In Sharpe’s paintings, for instance, the artist emphasizes hands set against various tactical surfaces like meat, fur, and plastic. The dynamic lighting of her canvases not only identifies the composition of her work, but also evokes cinematic influences.

Painters like Sharpe, Horowitz, Towers, and Deirup, with their realist style, use narrative figurative painting and still life to unpack the quotidian senses of life, and its attendant absurdities. With incredibly rich detail and color use, the paintings are expressive on both a formal and narrative level.

G Gallery, Seoul

NADA New York

The Seoul-based G Gallery will present a two-person booth of new works by Hannah Woo and Jungpyo Hong. Both abstract artists work across vivid color palettes that complement each other, which is sure to create an eye-catching booth not to be missed at NADA.

Hong makes abstract sculptural paintings made of painted steel featuring geometric lines and shapes that evoke the work of hard abstraction. His steel paintings are paired with the soft sculptural paintings of Woo, who composes her abstractions with fabric and beads. The images on Woo’s “canvases” are somewhat figurative, where faint images or outlines of landscapes and animals are conveyed but not represented with accurate likeness. In this way, Woo’s soft sculptural paintings are both reminiscent of family comforters, as well as the craft-based paintings of artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Faith Ringgold.

Cierra Briton Gallery, New York

Future Fair

Presenting a solo booth on figurative abstract painter Amy Amalia at Future Fair is New York–based Cierra Britton Gallery. The gallery, which opened its first roaming space last fall, is the vision of the rising curator Cierra Britton, and is the only gallery in New York City dedicated to exhibiting works by artists of color. The solo booth at Future Fair will exhibit new works by Amalia, who is known for her mixture of geometric abstraction and figurative portraiture.

In existing paintings, the artist overlays figurative portraits of Black women onto abstract geometric patterns and black-and-white color blocking, which evokes the Op Art movement. Amalia’s rich portraits are enhanced by her textured brush strokes that add dimension to the skin tone and representation of Black women, not unlike the work of her contemporaries Megan Lewis and Amoako Boafo.

SEPTIEME Gallery, Paris and Cotonou, Benin

1-54 New York

The Paris- and Cotonou-based SEPTIEME Gallery will present at 1-54 New York. 1-54 is the only art fair dedicated to showcasing modern and contemporary art by African and Afro-diasporic artists. The fair will take place in West Harlem and will bring audiences outside of the local Chelsea and Tribeca areas in which most of the aforementioned fairs are being held. While SEPTIEME Gallery’s artist selection is currently unannounced, its past fair presence has showcased rising African artists with a formidable approach to their crafts across painting, conceptual art, and sculpture.

Its current exhibition at its Cotonou location in Benin is a solo show by Ghanaian artist kwaku yaro, “A Night Out with Lariba and Friends,” on view through May 20th. Yaro weaves nylon and burlap to create colorful portraits of Black individuals. At its Paris location, the gallery has a solo exhibition of moody figure study paintings by Iranian artist Shagha Ariannia, “five more minutes of collective agony,” on view through May 27th. These current exhibitions are examples of the gallery’s exciting vision of exhibiting emerging artists with a dynamic practice, and leave much to be excited about for its presentation at 1-54 New York.

Ayanna Dozier

Ayanna Dozier is Artsy’s Staff Writer.

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