Five Artists to Watch in 2023
Advisory Perspective

Five Artists to Watch in 2023

13 January 2023

The New Year arrives in tandem with a refreshing outlook on contemporary art and the discovery of a new round of art students, graduates, and emerging artists on the exhibition and art fair circuit.

From poetic and visceral abstract works by Julia Jo to darkly humoured paintings by Mary Stephenson, there are some exceptionally talented artists the Ocula Advisory team will be following closely in 2023.


Julia Jo, Eat Your Heart Out (2022). Oil on linen. 203.2 x 203.2 cm.

Julia Jo, Eat Your Heart Out (2022). Oil on linen. 203.2 x 203.2 cm. Courtesy the artist and Charles Moffett, New York. Photo: Thomas Barratt.

Julia Jo

Julia Jo is a South Korean artist based in Brooklyn, New York, whose multifaceted paintings combine abstract and figurative visual language to deliver energy-drenched receptacles of colour.

Intensely frenetic, Jo's work is interested in capturing the shifting relationship between people in the everyday world and fluctuating emotions surrounding different experiences and interactions.

Standing in front of the Parson's School of Design graduate's works, you can revel in the feverish energy navigating her dense, yet defined brushstrokes.

This year, Jo's painterly mastery will be the subject of solo exhibitions at Charles Moffett, New York in January, James Fuentes, Los Angeles in May, and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco in September.


Stanislava Kovalcikova, Smear (2021). Oil on burlap. 44 x 34 cm.

Stanislava Kovalcikova, Smear (2021). Oil on burlap. 44 x 34 cm. Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects, Berlin, Seoul, and Milan.

Stanislava Kovalcikova

Czechoslovakian artist Stanislava Kovalcikova's work is informed by a curiosity for the reconstruction of conformity and the familiar.

The interplay of lucid colours, whimsical forms, and art historical references is carefully composed in Kovalcikova's paintings, which challenge predispositions surrounding identity, gender, and race.

While a student at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, Kovalcikova was taught by the visionary Peter Doig.

Kovalcikova's unearthly narratives are deeply enigmatic and will be the subject of an exhibition at Antenna Space in Shanghai later this year—the artist's first solo show in China.


Mary Stephenson, Early Feed (2022). Oil on canvas. 20.5 x 40.5 cm.

Mary Stephenson, Early Feed (2022). Oil on canvas. 20.5 x 40.5 cm. Courtesy Mary Stephenson. Photo: Tom Carter.

Mary Stephenson

Drawing on phantasmagoric imagery and dark humour, British artist Mary Stephenson offers new ground on surreal narratives in contemporary painting.

Stephenson's work is inspired by the intense depths of human emotion and different visual expressions of fear, desire, sadness, and happiness.

She paints carnivalesque characters and unsettling-yet-familiar scenery in a lurid colour palette. The resulting imagery recalls the uncanny and invites viewers into a world where tangible feelings like nostalgia and melancholy come to the fore.

Discussing her work, Stephenson said 'I like to think of the canvases as "pregnant spaces" where the unconscious can grow and reveal its hidden meanings.'

With her first international solo show Soft Serve (23 December 2022–4 March 2023) at Linseed Project in Shanghai, and the ambitious group exhibition Interior (10 November 2022–4 February 2023) at Michael Werner Gallery in London under her belt, we're excited to see what awaits Stephenson.


Andrea Marie Breiling, Untitled (3:56) (2022). Aerosol spray on canvas. 243.8 x 152.4 cm.

Andrea Marie Breiling, Untitled (3:56) (2022). Aerosol spray on canvas. 243.8 x 152.4 cm. Courtesy the artist and Night Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Nik Massey.

Andrea Marie Breiling

American artist Andrea Marie Breiling has harnessed the power of light and movement in complexly layered spray paintings.

Feathery swathes of vivid colour flow and bleed over her canvases, giving life to an intangible energy in flux. Breiling's chromatic compositions of azure, indigo, and amber, seize the viewer's gaze and attest to the mysterious power of paint.

Over the course of last year, the Phoenix-born artist's work has featured in exhibitions at Almine Rech and Rachel Uffner Gallery in New York and Night Gallery in Miami.

Following her first solo exhibition in China at Almine Rech's Shanghai space last summer, Breiling will be one to look out for this year.


Jacopo Pagin, Boiling Point (2021). Oil and acrylic on canvas. 200 x 140 cm.

Jacopo Pagin, Boiling Point (2021). Oil and acrylic on canvas. 200 x 140 cm. Courtesy the artist and Make Room, Los Angeles.

Jacopo Pagin

Jacopo Pagin's practice centres on the richness of art history, which he uses as a starting point to explore the concept of artistic creation.

The Italian artist's paintings are intriguing and render surreal self-portraits and still-lifes in striking colour palettes that evoke the same ethereal tones of sunrise and sunset. Pagin's considered compositions of sharp, curved lines and layered paint make his paintings particularly remarkable.

Jacopo Pagin's first institutional solo exhibition in Asia, Strategies Against Time (4 January–26 February 2023) is currently running at 39+ Artspace, Singapore. Presented by Pond Society, Shanghai, and supported by Make Room Los Angeles, it showcases the Brussels-based artist's distinct flair for blending and blurring myth, history, and the contemporary.

Wielding expert painting techniques and a thirst for experimentation, Pagin is bound to continue his rapid trajectory.

Main image: Mary Stephenson, Early Feed (2022) (detail). Oil on canvas. 20.5 x 40.5 cm. Courtesy Mary Stephenson. Photo: Tom Carter.

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