One of the upsides of being both a gay photographer and a co-owner of a contemporary art fair is that you are exposed to an incredible array of contemporary artists (many of which happen to be queer and make LGBTQ-themed work). It was tough to narrow down, but here’s a brief list of some of my top recommended queer artists to follow, fall in love with, and collect!
I first discovered Nadav’s work at Superfine! NYC in 2017 when Alex Guerra (owner of the Gaythering hotel in South Beach) showed a selection of his paintings in his Art Gaysel booth within our fair. Nadav’s portraits are stunning and simple, yet with so much detail and expression. His work ranges from natural to supernatural and never ceases to captivate me. My partner and I actually bought the piece below (“Circe”—with the long pink hair!)
I’m especially in love with Devan’s Barbershop series, which re-imagines the experiences he and other gay black men have had in black barbershops—but simulating a more welcoming environment for these LGBTQ customers. His work is so vibrant, textural, and dynamic, and he has a natural ability to draw your attention to where he wants it.
I’m very pleased that David will be exhibiting his mesmerizing paintings in Superfine! this upcoming February at our first Los Angeles show, located at Magic Box in DTLA. Whether a fetal position conveys a sense of rebirth or an unidentified hand makes you feel like god is reaching down, the pool tiles and filter offer a subtle foundation in reality.
I love these two as one and the same! Personally very close to each other, these two Spanish artists clearly inspire each other—and yet as you dive deeper they each have their own unique themes and aesthetics. Bran’s work tends to skew a little more contemplative and vibrant, while El Dibujo plays with humor and historical references more frequently. These were an Art Gaysel find (and are also both in our own collection!)
Stuart is a multifaceted gay artist based in LA who has popped up on my radar multiple, unrelated times recently (including via the third Queer Biennial in DTLA this summer). Sebastien is an ongoing series of larger-than-life (8-foot-tall) statues created with 3D scanning and printing technology, in which Stuart effectively evolves the classical Greco-Roman statue into a modern-day version that redefines the ideal masculine figure.
The beauty of Suzanne’s paintings lies in her effortless ability to defy and navigate gender and sexuality in the subjects she paints. Seeing her work offers a much-welcomed variety of strong women, demure men, trans people, and everyone in between.
Mark is an incredibly prolific artist and a charming human being on top of it. He appoints himself with a slew of different artist personas to allow himself to produce entirely different bodies of work without diluting the style of any one “person”. His most recognized (and my favorite) persona, Bruce Sargeant (aka B.S.), paints fine, young, upstanding men in pallid skin tones and suggestive scenarios, only occasionally crossing the line into explicitly erotic scenes. Mark also draws men nude almost every day, and I had the pleasure of posing for one of his drawings last year for my birthday (thanks Alex!).
Raw but refined, strange but poignant, Scooter’s paintings stimulate the viewer and elicit questions. He also has a way with translating his works onto articles of clothing without comprising their integrity (the likes of Beyonce have been known to wear his hand-painted art garments). As a close friend of my partner’s and my neighbor Johnny Rozsa when we lived in the East Village, I have delighted in several unexpected visits from Scooter!
Also the mind behind the Hotel Gaythering on South Beach, Alex spends the rest of his time documenting his rabbit-masked alter ego around the world, often hand-making his masks and cloning himself in one photograph with carefully chosen wardrobe changes. Alex also hosts the annual Art Gaysel during Miami’s Art Basel Week, which is an excellent resource to discover other queer artists from around the world (some of which are listed here!).
Jean has a way of transforming some of the most everyday locations (like a bath or a couch) into its own universe. His subjects, often melancholy but always serene, feel like they could easily and rightfully remain where they are sitting forever. I love his attention to light and the way it reflects off the water or off the person’s body.
Naruki is an incredible Japanese-born, Brooklyn-based painter who amusingly fuses classical painting techniques with hyper-expressive anime characters. I love how Naruki makes a painting serious and sincere but also sexually suggestive, and I’m proud to say I own one of his paintings (“Virtual Art Model”).
Alex and I first discovered Horacio’s work at a homespun artists’ art fair in Mexico City called Salón ACME back in 2016, and we quickly fell in love with his “human meatball” morphing and twisting of his figures. Fast forward to 2018, and we just bought our second piece from him at his solo show here in New York at Booth Gallery (on through October 20th). We can’t wait to see where he goes next!
We met Russell earlier this year at his vintage furniture show space, RePOP, while we were on the hunt for a pair of Mid Mod armchairs. Meanwhile, Russell was diligently drawing one of these faces for his Army of Lovers series, and we immediately fell in love with his work—so much so that we invited him to exhibit with us at Superfine! NYC 2018. Now that first piece we saw him make hangs in Alex’s and my home, seductively licking its lips at us for all eternity.
Serge knows exactly how little detail in a painting is necessary to still register what a man is placing in front of someone’s face. The perspectives and costumes in his pieces give off a Toulouse-Lautrec vibe, and his distorted, censored faces and limbs make these works unique to him.
Julius takes color to an unreal level in his beautifully saturated works. Often sporting Julius’ iconic red-and-blue eye color combo, each painting is embellished with subtle pop culture references and countless, ever-shrinking other flourishes. Julius’ work has been shown in Superfine! twice now, once in Alex Guerra’s Art Gaysel booth in NYC 2017 and a second time in New York this year with Sean Ward’s HUE Gallery.
I figured I ought to throw myself into the mix! When I have a breather from Superfine!, I create these surreal composite photographs stitched together with anywhere from two to 200 individual photos I take. At Superfine! DC (in just a few weeks!), I’ll be showing works from my Secrets of Suburbia series, a glance behind the curtains of the “ideal” American family and the results of idealistic expectations.