An array of light being swung in a circle frames a person while the lights create a halo of the remainder of the screen

Ten artists to watch in 2023

2023 is well underway. When we think about the year to come, this results in reflections on the year that went by. For collectors, 2022 was a year to get back to in-person events, which brought everyone much joy! 2023 means another year of art collection goals to achieve and potentially includes thinking about which artists to add to your collection. We outline the ten artists to watch out for in 2023 that gained initial or continued recognition in 2022.

Artists to watch from art fair prizes in Africa

Art fairs are a wonderful place to see artworks from several galleries, often by artists from various regions. Many art fairs commission a panel of judges to award a prize to one of the artists featured at the fair or through a call for submissions. Several prize winners in past years have gone on to achieve more outstanding professional and commercial success. That said, the latter is not a certainty, of course. Either way, art fairs offer lots of opportunities to find artists to watch.

Dada Khanyisa

Dada Khanyisa was born in Umzimkhulu in 1991 and currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa. They completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in 2016, after studying Traditional and Digital Animation at the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa.

In 2017 Khanyisa produced Afropolitan Tea Party, a mural at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. The mural was commissioned to give the historic site contemporary appeal. Their style is very distinctive, which they worked on deliberately. Their work explores the human condition in an urban context, and the artwork titles always make me grin at how they make me think.

Khanyisa won the 2022 FNB Art Joburg prize.

Dada Khanyisa,
“babe, what’s your ETA? should i order you something? also, pls call (redacted) and tell him to let us order under your tab. my friends can’t wait to meet you”, 2022
Stevenson Gallery

Dafe Oboro

Dafe Oboro (b. 1994) is a Nigerian artist working predominantly in photography and film. Oboro draws motifs from fashion and popular culture in his work. When asked what his creative manifesto is, Oboro said, “I make visual art that provokes thoughts and sparks conversations around issues of masculinity, social marginalisation, migration, culture and identity.” 

Oboro has an extensive cv outlining various screenings at art venues such as the V&A museum in London in 2019, numerous film festivals such as the Yale Africa Film Festival, and has collaborated with various organisations such as Nike, WaterAid, Vlisco&co, and Parkwood Entertainment/Beyoncé.

Dafe is the 2022/2023 winner of the Access Art X Prize awarded to a Nigerian artist as part of ART X Lagos.

Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski

Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski (b. 1980) is a Vienna, Austria-based writer, artist, and scholar. Rooted in Black feminist theory, she has developed a research-based and process-oriented investigative practice that often deals with archives, specifically with the voids in public libraries and collections. 

In 2016, Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński received the Theodor Körner Prize for Art for the project Naming What Was Once Unnameable, which deals with childhood and the experience of otherness.

Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski won the 2022/2023 winner of the Access Art X Prize’s Africa/Diaspora Award awarded to an artist outside of Nigeria or in the diaspora as part of ART X Lagos.

Michaela Young

The recent work of South African artist Michaela Younge (b. 1993) comprises intricate tapestries with often bemusing details. Her exhibition at the Cape Town Art Fair included a set of calendars set in tapestries of women on the beach.

Most of her exhibitions have been in South Africa. SMAC Art Gallery represents Younge. She exhibited at FNB Art Joburg in 2020 and the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London in 2019. Michaela won the Tomorrow/Today Award at the 2022 Investec Cape Town Art Fair. 

Artists to watch shown at art fairs in Europe

Johanna Mirabel

Johanna Mirabel (1991) is a painter and sculptor whose work explores the contradictions and complexities of cultural identity. She was born in France and is of Guyanese and Caribbean heritage. Through her painting and sculpture, the artist explores pictorial representation that oscillates between abstraction, expressionism and realism. Using lush vegetation, partially present and disparate objects, she stages contradictions and juxtapositions that evoke the inherent complexity of life between different cultures.

She won the 2022 Ritzau Art Prize, presented at the New York edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Galerie Véronique Rieffel represents her.

Abbas Zahedi

The winner of the 2022 Frieze London Artist Award is Abbas Zahedi. The award provides an emerging artist with the platform to debut an ambitious new commission on the occasion of Frieze London. Zahedi (b. 1984, London, UK) boasts an impressive exhibition cv from 2018. His work blends contemporary philosophy, poetics, and social dynamics with performative and new-media modes. Zahedi studied medicine at University College London before completing his MA in Contemporary Photography: Practices and Philosophies at Central Saint Martins in 2019.

Artists to watch from awards by notable art sponsors and institutions

Daouda Traoré

 Daouda Traoré (b. 1987) is a contemporary artist from Mali who currently works as a plastics art teacher. His work captures and reflects his daily life experiences, the experience of his society and the world at large. They outline the significant challenges facing the world, the multiple crises surrounding migration and conflicts and the current situation of Malian education. Traoré prides himself in giving life to neglected materials such as worn sheets, boxes of preserves, sacks of millet, wire and wool.

Traoré is the 2022 winner of the Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art. The prize is awarded to a visual artist between the ages of 18 to 40 from and living in West Africa. The prize is the flagship programme of the Kuenyehia Trust for Contemporary Art set up by Professor Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia in 2014 to promote and advance contemporary African art.

Bonolo Kavula

South African artist Bonolo Kavula developed her signature visual language as a student, inspired by conceptual and abstract art. Just because she uses thread, it is not embroidery. She explains, “It is line work as one would look at a drawing, and the threads are part and parcel of the work and not a means to get the work to fit together.”

Kavula was named the Grand Prize Winner of the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize in 2022. Her artwork Tswelopele, is a textile-based sculptural piece crafted from a red seShweshwe dress.

Kavula (b. 1992) is the first artist to receive this annual award for contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora. The prize is a joint initiative between the Sovereign Art Foundation and the Norval Foundation.

Samuel Nnorom

Samuel Nnorom (b. 1990, Nigeria) is a multi-talented artist who seeks to explore several materials. He holds a BAed (sculpture major) from the University of Jos and currently concluding an MFA in sculpture from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Nnorom uses Ankara fabric to explore ideas surrounding bubbles while interrogating personal experiences related to African sociopolitical issues.

Nnorom has garnered a string of awards since 2010 and was the overall winner and the winner of the prize for the Africa region for the inaugural M&C Saatchi Group and Saatchi Gallery Art for Change Prize for emerging artists announced in December 2022. The Art for Change Prize invited emerging artists from around the world to creatively respond to the theme of “Equality”.

Lady Skollie

Lady Skollie (b. 1987) is a South African artist and activist. Her art education began at a young age when her mother enrolled her into the Frank Joubert Art Centre. The centre is now named the Peter Clarke Art Centre, after the renowned South African master.

Lady Skollie’s work focuses on concepts of gender, desire, sex and sexuality, intimacy, and consent in South Africa.

Through her pseudonym and artistic personality, Lady Skollie, the artist (born as Laura Windvogel), aimed to create an agency in which she communicates themes that are difficult to speak about directly. 

The term “Skollie” is a historical term that originates in the Dutch colonised South Africa. Historically, white people used the term to identify a black person they considered untrustworthy or having come from an undesirable community.

Khoisan rituals, religion and culture, are incorporated into her art. They appear as stylised figures from cave paintings, sometimes participating in a trans dance; or the god ǀKaggen in his mantis form or descending to earth to speak to his people shaped like a snake. Lady Skollie also often draws various plants and herbs, referring to the Khoisan’s in-depth knowledge of nature. Most of her work is clear about the reclamation of her Khoisan heritage. 

Lady Skollie is the recipient of the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist Award in the Visual Arts category.

Tell us about your artists to watch in 2023

These ten artists to watch in 2023 cover a range of mediums that could enhance one’s art collection. Do you have an artist to watch in 2023? Let us know in the comments section!

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