Top 10 Artists of 2016

Joey Holder, Ophiux, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, 2016

Martine Syms, Fact & Trouble installation view, ICA, London, 2016

Yuri Pattison, Frieze Artist Award, Frieze London, 2016

Marguerite Humeau, FOXP2 installation view, Palais de Tokyo 2016

Femke Herregraven, installation view Carroll/Fletcher, 2016

Marianna Simnett, The Needle and the Larynx, installation view, Seventeen, New York, 2016

Woolfgang Tilmans, EU Referendum Poster, 2016

Celia Hempton, Southard Reid booth, Frieze London, 2016

Beatrice Dillon

Cecile B Evans, What the Heart Wants film still, 2016

Which artists have come into their own this year, and who should you be watching in 2017? We select the ten most exciting international artists on our radar

1. Joey Holder

Born 1981, London

This year has seen the impressive development of London-based artist Joey Holder’s 2015 Wysing residency and her research into the future human, which culminated in her solo exhibition ‘Ophiux’ at the Cambridge-based arts centre this autumn. For the show, Holder worked closely with scientists to imagine a future where synthetic biology has been fully realised to advance human evolution and life expectancy. Holder also brought her distinctive take on biotechnology and alternative ecosystems to a number of group exhibitions and screenings throughout the year, including shows at such varied galleries as Podium in Oslo, Georg Kargl in Vienna, Lighthouse in Brighton and Annely Juda Fine Art in London.


2. Martine Syms

Born 1980, Los Angeles 

Los Angeles artist Martine Syms’ work fluctuates between what is real and what is represented, particularly in terms of representations of female blackness in American pop culture. Syms’ artistic practice includes video, performance, and publishing, and draws from the history of early cinema through internet memes. Entering her solo show ‘Fact & Trouble’ at the ICA earlier this year felt like stepping into Sym’s own digitally saturated memory, filled with family photos, home videos, found images, television ads and Youtube videos. With recent shows at The Hammer, Karma International and Bridget Donahue Gallery, the last few years have seen Sym’s reputation grow. 2017 looks to be another important year for the artist, beginning in January when Syms returns to London with a solo show at Sadie Coles gallery as part of Condo.


3. Yuri Pattison

Born 1986, Dublin

This year saw the culmination of Pattison’s two-year Create Residency with a solo show at Chisenhale Gallery, selected as one of our Top 10 exhibitions of the year. The Frieze Artist Award also went to Pattison for his proposal to harvest networked data from the surrounding environs of the fair and the Internet of Things, leading to a multi-screen installation within the Fair as part of its non-profit Frieze Projects programme. Pattison was also included in British Art Show 8, the showcase of contemporary art from the UK, whose touring programme continued throughout this year with appearances in Leeds, Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton. Further afield, Pattison could be found in numerous group shows from Rotterdam to Dusseldorf to Detroit, in addition to his inclusion in the 5th Moscow International Biennale of Young Art.


4. Marguerite Humeau

Born 1986, France

On two of our 2016 Top Ten lists and with a new digital project for our first online issue, Marguerite Humeau is a confirmed POSTmatter favourite. With major solo shows at Palais de Tokyo and Nottingham Contemporary, as well as a series of significant international group shows, such as Manifesta 11 in Zurich, Moscow Biennale of Young Art and SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul, Humeau has had quite a year. Whether it’s her mystical reimagining of the origins of language or the story she builds on the true nature of love, she’s an artist who fulfils the human desire to attach a sense of magic to our being. Through speculative narratives of our beginning and grandiose sculptures imbued with scientific experimentation, Humeau’s sci-fi-cum-occult projects provide a sense of belonging to her audience at a time when traditional structures, such as the nation state, cannot. Don’t miss her in early 2017 at C L E A R I N G gallery, New York.


5. Femke Herregraven

Born 1982, lives in Amsterdam 

From lectures at Transmediale and the Oslo Triennial to exhibitions across Netherlands, UK and the USA, 2016 has seen Femke Herregraven go further in her mapping of the hidden infrastructures behind global finance, geopolitics and information. Exploring the relationship between technology, nature and society, this designer, artist and researcher conjures and translates the abstract systems of power that govern our world. Her speculative yet didactic sculptures, videos and online games were included in standout group shows such as Carroll/Fletcher’s Neoliberal Lulz back in February, Third Nature at CCS Bard and Grand New at Berlin’s Future Gallery, with whom she was also exhibited at Sunday Art Fair this year. Watch out for the results of her upcoming residency at Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in 2017-2018.


6. Marianna Simnett

Born 1986, London

After winning the Jerwood/FVU Award in 2015 for her film The Udder, a magic-realist tale set in a robot dairy farm in rural Sussex, Simnett has been moving from strength to strength. In January this year she presented her first solo show at Seventeen with an intense, immersive film installation Faint with Light, in which the artist recorded herself fainting by forced hyperventilation as LED lights fluctuated in response to the noise produced by the artist’s body. A solo show of her work is also running from now until 22nd January to inaugurate Seventeen Gallery’s new space in New York.


7. Wolfgang Tillmans

Born 1968, Remscheid

Hardly an artist who could be described as anything but firmly established, having won the Turner Prize for his understated and intimate photographs back in 2000, our inclusion of Wolfgang Tillmans on this list comes in light of his role in the Brexit debate that shaped much of 2016. The posters created by Tillmans for the Remain campaign, in which he superimposed slogans over images taken from his own archive, came for many to visually represent the political argument for Britain to stay in the EU. His dual role as artist and activist were brought together explicitly in a solo show at Maureen Paley this summer, in which new photographic works were displayed alongside pro-Remain posters created by Tillmans and many others. Other solo shows could be seen at Museu Serralves in Porto, Sonora128 in Mexico City and Galerie Bucholz in Berlin this year, but it was Tillmans’ passionate response to the political climate of his adopted home that made him truly stand out in 2016.


8. Celia Hempton

Born 1981, Stroud

It would be difficult for Celia Hempton’s close-up crops of genitalia, often sketched from life models met in online chat rooms, to go under the radar for long. With their strong colour palette and distinctive brush strokes, they take an unusually physical and painterly approach to the digital intimacies of the internet. This has been a busy year for Hempton, from her inclusion in Whitechapel Gallery’s ‘Electronic Superhighway’ (one of our Top 10 exhibitions of the year) to her site-specific installation commissioned in the summer by the Institute of Contemporary Arts at 180 The Strand, for which she built a theatre set of sorts. Represented in the UK by Southard Reid, she took over their booth at Frieze with a memorable solo presentation that extended her paintings to the walls themselves, in a series of murals that immersed viewers in her alternate map of the human form.


9. Beatrice Dillon

Born in London

Beginning the year with a performance at Berlin’s CTM Festival and ending it with the limited edition release of Can I Change My Mind? on Boomkat is London-based producer, composer, artist and DJ Beatrice Dillon. In between the year’s bookends Dillon has succeeded in fitting in an artist residency at Wysing Art Centre, a regular slot on NTS and numerous other international festivals and DJ sets. Along the way she performed with the inimitable Tim Hecker at the Barbican in November, acted as a visiting professor at the Slade School of Art, and composed a soundtrack for The Leadmill in Sheffield alongside four other artists, among other collaborations. With a skill for mixing sounds that oft go unheard, experimental noise, dub, field recordings, minimal techno and early jungle, Dillon’s ability to span artforms and genres is making her a highly sought-after collaborator for artists, musicians and producers alike.


10. Cecile B Evans

Born 1983, Ohio

Most recently Cecile B Evans has been exploring how human emotion is valued in contemporary society, especially in light of the ways in which we process and experience emotion have been drastically affected by digital technologies. In 2016 we saw her produce her most comprehensive work to date, What the Heart Wants, an immersive video installation commissioned and co-produced by Berlin Biennale. Following a nomination for the prestigious Film London Jarman Award 2016, Evans is showing brand new work, Sprung a Leak, a play in 3 acts at Tate Liverpool that was borne out of her frustration towards our limited online infrastructures. Visit her website to contribute to an open Google doc in which she facilitates sprawling conversations about this particularly unique moment in time and answers questions about her work, proving to be an artist with her ear to the ground on modern life in the digital age.

Myths, miracles and the scent of outer-space: our highlights from Frieze London
Marguerite Humeau, Yuri Pattison, Philippe Parreno, Jon Rafman and more make our list of must-see booths this year, with a particularly strong showing from Frieze Projects
The Origin of Love
GALLERY: Marguerite Humeau collaborates with Toke Lykkeberg Nielsen and Benjamin Penaguin to create a digital parchment on the biological synthesis of love
Our Top 10 UK Exhibitions of 2016
We look back at the shows that caught our eye and stayed with us, uniting art and and technology to take in everything from frozen plants at Parasol Unit to Bjork's Virtual Reality at Somerset House
Wolfgang Tillmans
The starting point of Tillman's much anticipated Tate Modern show is 2003, the year of the invasion of Iraq. With intimate still-lifes, portraits, landscapes, political imagery and abstract works, the Turner Prize-winning photographer confronts the past alongside the world in which we find ourselves today. Tillmans also takes over the south Tank for ten days with an immersive new installation featuring his work in music and video, interspersed with live events.
Howling Under the Blue Moon
Field Trip: Florence Peake, Beatrice Dillon and Wojciech Kosma lead a cult for the night in the heart of the Cambridge countryside
Is weaving an ancient digital art?
We explore radical perspectives on craft and technology in new exhibition ‘Thinking Out Loud’ with curator Hannah Redler
Yuri Pattison: user, space
In an exciting new commission for the Chesenhale Gallery London based artist Yuri Pattison presents a series of new works that reimagine our work/home environments through the lens of modernist architecture, science fiction and London's Tech City.
Meet the artist adventuring into the occult
Marguerite Humeau delves into pre-history and mythology to uncover what it means to be human in the age of the internet
Marguerite Humeau: FOXP2
Humeau gives a tangible beauty to the imagined origins of life in her first major UK solo show. Sound installations, sculptures and biology unite in a space that sings the story of the past whilst hinting at life ahead.
All Channels Open
This group show brings together the ten artists who were in residence at Wysing Arts Centre during 2016, including Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Beatrice Dillon, Florence Peake and Lawrence Lek. The exhibition takes it cue from radio and DJ mixes and will employ a synchronised arrangement of projectors, monitors, objects and surround sound to explore the theme of 'All Channels Open'.