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  • Writer's pictureMegan MacGregor

Top 5 Painters To Watch (Ranked By Art Collectors In 2024)

Art collectors ranked the top cutting-edge painters of the year. From a vivid portraitist to an abstract explorer, these artists are shaping the future of painting.

top painters to watch

FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.


1. Loie Hollowell: Pioneering a New Dimension of Abstraction


loie hollowell art

Highlight: Hollowell reduces the female form to its most primal factors in immersive, multidimensional experiences.


"Loie Hollowell stands out in the contemporary art scene as a pioneer of abstraction. She delves into the depth of the human experience by reducing the physical form to its most basic shapes. Her work explores form, color and dimension, by combining organic shapes and geometric patterns in deeply immersive visual experiences.
At first glance, the paintings seem to be nothing more than a combination of shapes and colors paired together. However, much like the Magic Eye stereogram, where a two-dimensional image creates the illusion of a three-dimensional scene, Hollowells portraits evolve the longer you look at them. Upon further examination, the generic shapes evolve into complex forms. A nipple here, a breast there.
Hollowell uses light, color and space to dance with universal themes of sexuality and reproduction. Her use of perspective and depth challenge the viewer’s experience with space and form, while also forcing them to question preconceived notions of physicality and the human form.
Hollowell’s evolving exploration of abstraction and intimacy marks her as a groundbreaking figure in contemporary art. As she further refines her exploration of these themes, Hollowell's work promises to push the boundaries of what it means to connect with and understand the human form." — Megan MacGregor
 

2. Ariel Babinsky: Stripping Portraiture Back to its Essence


ariel babinsky art

Highlight: Babinsky challenges perceptions of complexity with raw simplicity.


"In a world often overwhelmed by complexity and extravagance, Ariel Babinsky offers a refreshing counterpoint. His portraits invite viewers to pause and reflect on the essence of the human experience. The artistry lies in his ability to strip away the unnecessary glamor associated with traditional portraiture, leaving viewers with the raw essence of what it means to be human.
Babinsky blends various media to create portraits of men in varying states of undress. His innovative use of materials – tearing pages from novels, assembling collages from found photographs, and overlaying these with acrylics and charcoal – adds layers of meaning and texture to his work. In many of his paintings, a specific section is void of layering, revealing a snapshot of the individual beneath. This technique not only serves as a metaphor for the multifaceted nature of human experiences but also begs the question: what happens when you strip everything away?
Drawing inspiration from artistic pioneers like Andy Warhol and literary figures like J.D. Salinger, Babinsky reduces life's complexity into its most basic forms. This simplicity puts the power back into the viewer, allowing the individual to decide what they are interpreting.
Babinsky continues to evolve his unique approach to painting, while exploring themes of identity and vulnerability. His ability to challenge the complexity of the human experience through the simplicity of varying artistic formats, positions him as a key figure in the contemporary art landscape. As he delves deeper into the exploration of the human condition, his future work promises to become a beacon for those seeking authenticity in art." — Megan MacGregor
 

3. Ana Benaroya: Where Explosive Colors Meet Dynamic Forms


ana benaroya art

Credit: Ana Benaroya


Highlight: Benaroya's work bursts with vibrant energy, bold colors and distorted forms.


"Ana Benaroya's portraits are a visual game, one where color, form, and emotion intersect. Her abstract portraits are characterized by vibrant compositions of women depicted as muscular and fantastical, detailed in bold colors. Her distinctive style – abstract surrealism – exaggerates the human form and creates contrasting elements of intensity and playfulness.
Drawing inspiration from comic books, pop culture, and feminist discourse, Benaroya crafts images that challenge the notion of traditional femininity. Many of her portraits display women as muscular and strong, challenging the idea that to be female is to be meek.
Her work questions traditional beauty standards, offering a refreshing take on female empowerment and self-expression. The figures in her paintings are depicted as confident and joyful, often confronting the viewer head on or completely dismissing them entirely. The women are often posed in ways traditionally reserved for portraits of men – smoking cigarettes, shooting guns, flexing their muscles.
Benaroya's trajectory in the art world is marked by her continuous exploration of female empowerment. Her paintings use visual techniques to invite viewers to reflect on the complexities of gender stereotypes. For her, this isn’t a man’s world. It’s one where women take charge and leave shame at the door." — Megan MacGregor
 

4. Kehinde Wiley: A Vivid Reimagination of Traditional Portraiture


kehinde wiley art

Highlight: Wiley creates a commentary on the socio-political context surrounding representation and visibility in the art world.


"Kehinde Wiley celebrates African-American culture by transforming traditional portraiture into bold, vibrant paintings.
Wiley’s portraits tap into a grandiose style, typically reserved for wealth and prestige. By combining these elements against the background of everyday African-American men, he creates a surprising and thought-provoking contrast. Wiley challenges the style of traditional art by setting his African-American subjects in a classical portraiture format and creating vivid, patterned backgrounds.
By selecting everyday people as his subjects and immortalizing them within grand, ornate settings, Wiley forces viewers to reconsider the historical significance of portraiture. His approach is both celebratory and critical, challenging notions of identity, power and beauty. Wiley’s portraits have also expanded beyond just everyday individuals glancing at the viewer.
His portraits of Tarek Ali Ellis and Michael Morgan show one African-American carrying another, challenging the idea that portraits are stoic and still. By representing African-American men from all walks of life and altering their body posture, he discards the notion that traditional portraiture is reserved only for the elite.
Wiley’s skill is also not to be understated. His combination of realism with patterned abstraction weaves a deeper narrative about cultural identity and social justice. He stands out as a visionary artist whose work is profoundly relevant in today's cultural and political climate. By exploring the power dynamics inherent in portraiture, while representing beauty in all its forms, Wiley leads the charge into the importance of inclusivity and diversity in art." — Megan MacGregor
 

5. Aya Takano: A Surrealist Exploration of Innocence


aya takano art

Credit: Aya Takano


Highlight: Takano's figures are suspended in animation, almost as if they’re not tethered to the gravitational pull of the earthly land.


"As a painter, illustrator, sci-fi writer and manga artist, Aya Takano is a jack of all trades, making her a key figure in Japan’s contemporary art scene. She’s a member of Takashi Murakami's renowned Kaikai Kiki collective, and her style is characterized by delicate, ethereal forms and a vivid, dreamlike palette.
Takano is a visual storyteller. She's adept at transporting her viewers into otherworldly dimensions, often depicting sexually empowering images of women, animals and mythological creatures. Often, the figures are interacting in emotive, intimate ways, suggesting a deeper connection between all walks of life.
Takano walks a fine line between reality and fantasy, and yet teeters back and forth between the naivety of innocence and the maturity of adulthood. Some of her figures also take on androgynous shapes, challenging traditional gender norms and forcing viewers to question personal identity. Spurred by her joint interest in the cosmos, sci-fi, and Japanese folklore, Takano’s art plays with the theme of technology and nature.
Takano offers a deeply imaginative perspective of what it means to be human in a world that isn’t always humane. Her paintings are not just visually appealing. They open a door into a surreal universe where the viewer is asked to face complex emotional questions about the meaning of existence." — Megan MacGregor
 

Megan MacGregor is a writer and reviewer whose work has been published by numerous outlets, including: 'Be My Travel Muse' and 'Extreme Nomads'. She's also the author of 13 novels.

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