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February James, "In the Meantime", 2019

February James
In the Meantime, 2019

5 Artists on Our Radar This Spring
Artsy Curatorial and Artsy Editorial
Mar 25, 2020 2:47pm

“Artists on Our Radar” is a new monthly series produced collaboratively by Artsy’s editorial and curatorial teams. Utilizing our editors’ art expertise and our curatorial team’s unique insights and access to Artsy data, each month, we will highlight five artists who have our attention. To make our selections, we’ve determined which artists made an impact this past month, whether through exhibitions at galleries or institutions, sales at art fairs, major auction results, or online sale inquiries through Artsy.

The selections on this list primarily take into account signals that occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent postponement of the vast majority of art industry events. For future installments, we will be monitoring online projects, viewing rooms, and sales, as well as Artsy data, to determine the artists we feature.

February James
B. Washington, D.C. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Last month, as we celebrated Black History Month, curator Larry Ossei-Mensah told us about February James, a rising self-taught artist creating dynamic figurative paintings. James strives to capture a person’s essence in her paintings, rather than their likeness. As a result, her ethereal watercolors of bodies and faces are steeped with emotion. “The works are autobiographical and represent her own experiences,” Ossei-Mensah explained. “They tell stories. If you look at the eyes, you can tell there’s something more happening within this picture, and you try to reconcile what that is.”

Collectors have taken an interest in James’s work, too—there have already been nearly three times as many inquiries on the artist’s works on Artsy in 2020 than in all of 2019.

Before COVID-19 put a pause on in-person art world events, James was slated to open a show of new work this spring at Luce Gallery in Turin, Italy. In 2019, she was featured in a group show at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, curated by artist Nina Chanel Abney; in recent years, she’s worked on collaborations with Solange and Diplo. This past fall, for her solo show with L.A.’s Wilding Cran Gallery, “A Place to Belong,” James transformed the exhibition space into an enveloping domestic sphere that looked as though it were plucked from one of her paintings.

—Casey Lesser