As spring approaches, Venice is set to transform as it hosts the world's most celebrated art fair—the Venice Biennale (20 April–24 November 2024).
Drawing curators, collectors, and critics to the floating city every two years, the fair celebrates its 60th anniversary with the exhibition, Foreigners Everywhere.
Curated by Adriano Pedrosa, the director of the São Paulo Museum of Art, the exhibition brings together 331 artists and collectives in a display that explores living on the margins as an outsider.
Lauren Halsey is one of the biggest names in this year's main exhibition.
The Los Angeles-based artist has been rapidly on the rise since her full-scale architectural commission for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's rooftop garden, which closed in October 2023, and the recent announcement of her shared representation with David Kordansky Gallery and Gagosian.
Known for her sculptures and installations that draw on African-American culture, Halsey makes immersive installations that celebrate community and collaboration. Her practice is rooted in envisioning a brighter future against class divides, disenfranchisement, and gentrification, with a particular focus on her South Central Los Angeles hometown.
In conversation with Ocula magazine in 2020, Halsey emphasised the importance of Black futurity in her practice. 'I'm really interested in creating community ownership in the neighbourhood, and I'm most excited to imagine a future for South-Central L.A. where we are not always under attack, whatever that violence may be, whether it's gentrification or other oppressive systems.'
Ana Segovia's paintings explore masculinity in striking colour palettes.
Joining kurimanzutto's artist roster in November 2023, the Mexican artist is known for challenging gender constructs and reimagining representations of masculinity, specifically looking at his homeland's mainstream media and culture.
Expect to see tightly-cut compositions in brilliant colours like neon purple and bright peach, depicting faceless men wearing cowboy hats and tight trousers.
Segovia's flair for creating tensions between the norm and the unconventional make for intriguing visual narratives and align with the exhibition's focus on marginalised individuals, specifically queer artists.
Later this year, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey in Mexico will present a solo exhibition of Segovia's paintings.
After seeing Mataaho Collective's Tuakirikiri (2023) at the Gwangju Biennale last April, Ocula Advisors are keen to see the New Zealand collective exhibit in Europe.
Mataaho Collective, which is made up of four Māori women, will bring a large-scale installation to Venice this year. If it's anything like their previous fibre-based works, fair-goers are in for a spectacle.
The installations, which show off contemporary Māori weaving techniques, weave shadow and light below their canopies to create a dramatic viewing experience.
Previous work includes Takapau (2022), an installation made up of 200 square metres of woven reflective truck strops, which visitors could walk under to admire soft dappled light seeping through the weave.
Eight New Zealand artists will participate in Foreigners Everywhere, which feels important in light of the country not having a pavilion at the fair for the first time in more than two decades.
Swiss-born Brazilian artist Claudia Andujar is among the established living artists included in this year's main exhibition.
Having fled Nazi Germany, Andujar settled in Brazil and became a citizen in 1976. Her career as a photojournalist led her to northern Brazil, where she encountered the native Yanomami people and thereafter advocated for their protection of life and land.
The São Paulo-based artist has dedicated her life to defending the Yanomami. Her impactful photographs capture the culture of Brazilian Indigenous communities and challenge the common Western portrayal of these individuals as the 'other'.
Employing experimental photographic techniques that deviate from the typical documentary style, Andujar's photographs of land and people are characterised by their high contrast.
Louis Fratino paints tender scenes of nude male figures in interior spaces and landscapes. He paints in a style reminiscent of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, using geometric shapes to construct his compositions.
Looking at his paintings, you step into a world of contemplation and sensory exploration. His works unfold scenes of men bathing in rivers amid lush jungles, friends draped over one another on dancefloors of bars, and couples strolling among cherry blossom trees. Each scene invites viewers to become a voyeur of time spent.
Chinese diaspora artist Evelyn Taocheng Wang works between drawing, painting, calligraphy, performance, and installation to explore themes of gender, belonging, and cultural identity.
Wang draws from her experience as an immigrant artist who is Chinese-born, German-educated, and Netherlands-based. Viewing identity as an evolving, multi-layered concept, she connects her life with reflections on art history, prompting questions about the consequences of migration and globalisation today.
In her paintings, Wang merges muted tones, delicate line drawings, and written word, constructing compositions that interweave her memory with imagination. These paintings result in fragmented narratives infused with emotion and poetry.
A key influence on Wang is the Canadian-born American artist Agnes Martin. The inspiration manifests in Wang's use of abstract grids as a foundation for figuration, where she renders still-life objects such as pak choi, flat peaches, and tangerines. These objects balance between the lines, creating an intriguing exploration of form and space in her work.
Wang's work is currently featured in the group exhibition, Dream Time (27 January–28 April 2024), at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.
Main image: Ana Segovia, Noche Americana I (2023) (detail). Oil on canvas. 140 x 200 cm. Courtesy the artist and Kurimanzutto, Mexico City.