The loudest buzz at this winter’s Art Basel in Miami was centered around Avant Gallery. Their roster includes some of the biggest and boldest names in the art world, as well as notable comers. Skyler Grey, for instance, is only 19 years old, and known for pop transformations of iconic brands into cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse as Karl Lagerfeld. Or BNS, whose collage mashups layers imagery and social commentary in bright swathes of color.
Founded in 2007 by Dmitry Prut, the gallery has made its name in Miami for showcasing big, bold, in your face street art with a message. Now, that message will be available midst Manhattan’s most buzzed about new real estate project, the controversial Hudson Yards. According to Prut, “No one really knew what to expect in terms of the magnitude of the entire project, but everyone knew that it would be a huge deal.” He chuckles, “Avant’s M.O. is generally to tippy toe outside of the box.”
With a corner overlooking the Chelsea Arts District next to the Highline, not to mention some highly Instagrammable pieces, the gallery is poised to make a big splash in New York as well. As Prut puts it, “NYC is undeniably the world’s largest and best market for contemporary art.” The Shed, an expandable arts space behind Hudson Yards, and in close proximity to Avant, made the NYC move a no brainer.
Haven’t had the chance to get there in person? Here are BlackBook‘s six favorite pieces…so far.
Frida Kahlo Deconstructed by BNS (pictured top)
This Buenos Aires born street artist Mariano, aka BNS, is known for his dry humor and social commentary. Case in point, Frida Kahlo’s neck tattoo “Menace to Society,” juxtaposed with colorless flower crowns and street art tagging that grab the viewer and give pause. Which is exactly what Mariano wants.
Einstein and His Violin by Will Kurtz
A former landscape architect, Will Kurtz left it all behind to attend art school in New York in his 50’s. He now creates life sized collage pieces out of newspaper to capture the “raw, imperfect, ephemeral quality that reminds us we are only here for a short while.”
False Profits (Red Saint) by LaSso
A Colombian street artist, LaSso pairs soft floral images with hard lines, drawing from his background in architectural design. His elevated urban aesthetics have led to window design collaborations with top fashion brands Issey Miyake and Valentino.
I Love Life by STMTS
A self-made political street artist from Athens, Greece, STMTS is known for creating emotionally charged images of children. As he says, “I care about the social problems and more specifically about the kids and the new generations.” While at first glimpse the images are full of whimsy, upon closer inspection the harsh realities of pain and loss shine through in dripping hearts and alleys full of running or abandoned kids.
Bin Dunmou Tua Owei by Jacqueline Suowari
Born and raised in Niegeria, Suowari began drawing at the age of 5. Her painstakingly crafted portraits illuminate the page with a ballpoint pen and a bit of acrylic paint, she chooses her subjects to represent the beauty that can be found in the smallest details of each one’s hair and expression. As she says, “Being able to carry hair in this way, whether you are male or female, portrays an inner strength and is something that I admire.”
Mickey x Karl’s Can of Fun by Skyler Grey
“I’ve been watching Skyler since he was 14,” says Prut. “We first met in Miami when he flew down with his father/manager Holman Arthurs during Art Basel.” Named a ‘30 Under 30 to Watch’ in Forbes in 2017, he creates art by synergising cartoons and fashion brands, which become something greater than their parts. Snoop Dogg and The Game each own paintings which run from $12,000-$80,000 a piece. A mixture of painting in acrylic, silk screening and diamond dust embellishments, each is totally unique.