Nylon; Hannah Hill/Lizzy Lunday/Sof’ya Shpurova/Vanessa Gully Santiago/Willa Nassatir


NYLON’s 10 Painters To Watch

The art world’s most exciting, up-and-coming painters.

In the art world, few mediums feel as visceral as a painting. There’s the relentless attention to detail from photorealist painters, the distressing representations of the psyche, and the utter ecstasy of works teeming with desire. Artists like Lizzy Lunday zero in on the artifice of obsession, while those like Sara Birns warp and remold the human face to play around with the meaning of recognition. A canvas is all that’s needed to center the viewer in the present moment, to blast through and touch the spirit, and along the way, reshape perspective. For the 2023 Art Issue, NYLON brings you the newest crop of talented and thrilling artists, those who are pushing the boundaries in the ever-evolving medium of painting — and they’re only getting started.

Lizzy Lunday

Lizzy Lunday, currently on view at Fredericks & Freiser, paints scenes of contemporary glamor with the logic of dreams. The Brooklyn-based artist makes large-scale, collage-like paintings of images culled from pop culture, particularly social media and the cult of reality TV. Borrowing from the genre of history painting — a style of painting coined in 17th-century France for grandiose works that captured major moments in war as well as the Bible — Lunday’s kaleidoscopic work doesn’t just satirize our exaltation of pop culture figures, but chops and skews them, creating new, mesmerizing caricatures that distort our perception of reality. “Clasped,” for example, recalls the memeable photo of Bella Hadid crying at Serena Williams’ final match, showing a Hadid-like figure with hands clasped in a prayer in a palette of coral, pinks, and oranges. The work ultimately exposes the artifice of obsession, all in broad strokes and delicious colors. — Sophia June, culture writer

Various Sirens by Lizzy LundayFredericks & Freiser

Sara Birns

Sara Birns’ paintings are surreal and wholly transfixing. Birns’ style harkens back to the old masters: oil paintings bursting with emotion and a vivid shock of details. There’s an undercurrent of comedy to her work. Facial features are warped, and with them, the cues of recognition. Sometimes it’s the intensity of fleshy skin, yellowed and ridged teeth, and dry cracked lips. Other times, the heavenly soft wisps of hair on a chihuahua puppy’s ears and a crouched humanoid in the ecstatic embrace of a sly, winking head of Filderkraut cabbage. But always, there’s a strange, yet familiar intimacy bursting out in total clarity. — Layla Halabian, culture editor

Amalgamation by Sara Birns
1 / 1
1 / 1

Aristotle Forrester

Vigorously textural and rendered in bold colors — many of which Aristotle Forrester makes himself by hand-grinding pigment and oil — these abstract paintings dare you to keep looking. Originally from the South Side of Chicago and now based in New York, much of his work deals with personal and historic evidence of racial injustice. Forrester implements symbols often with a Cubist approach; with figures like the horseman, the flag, the mask, and the fugitive, he questions racial constructs and examines power structures. — SJ

Concrete Visionary by Aristotle Forrester
Red Rider by Aristotle Forrester
1 / 2
1 / 2

Vanessa Gully-Santiago

The dark, unknowable recesses of the self are on full display in Vanessa Gully-Santiago’s return to self-portraiture, where both the mind and the body become an unwelcome prison. In Self Portrait in Red Dress, Gully-Santiago’s use of bloody crimson hues against stark white evoke worry and unease, faces blurred just enough to mimic the unrelenting haze of worry. But with the psychological body horror also comes an embrace of longing. In Love Tree, the artist’s use of handwritten farewell letters and stickers, artifacts from preschool, serve as a reminder that “even if you’re alone now, at some point people cared for you.” — LH

Love Tree by Vanessa Gully-Santiago

Kat Lowish

Kat Lowish’s realistic paintings are so hypnotic they have an almost sedating effect. Using muted colors, she beautifully renders quiet moments of girlhood: cardinal-colored socks hanging in a bathtub, a tabby cat gazing at a shadow, a ringed finger picking shrimp off a plate. But the most transfixing part of her work is her uncanny ability to paint light and shadow, giving a palpable sense of serene loneliness. — SJ

Make Believe by Kat Lowish

Sof’ya Shpurova

Walking the tightrope between the unnerving and the empathetic is Sof’ya Shpurova. The artist weaves in elements of Russian icon painting from her homeland into her work, particularly through enlarged, watchful, perhaps even tormented, eyes. Shpurova’s paintings feel both mystical and raw, like precious artifacts from a dreamlike realm, rapidly blurring and fading from the harsh, penetrating light of reality. — LH

Trem-bling by Sof’ya Shpurova

Anthony Cudahy

Anthony Cudahy’s paintings feel like the bridges of love songs and the surprisingly tender chords that tie them all together. Drawing from medieval and folk painting traditions and sourcing imagery from Instagram, movie stills, queer archival images, and real life, Cudahy renders male figures in rich colors, elevating the romance of small moments with a tender eye, evoking nostalgia of memories real or imagined. — SJ

Eroded Beach by Anthony CudahyCourtesy Anthony Cudahy and Hales, London and New York. Photo by JSP Art Photography.

Hannah Hill

Hannah Hill’s art is a love letter to the Deep South. The Alabama-born, Brooklyn-based painter dips into the haunting specters of Southern folklore for work that is generous with not only color and mood but searing desire. There are scattered mementos of the Southern gothic divine feminine present throughout Hill’s large-scale oil paintings: from a flying blue crane swooping with mythological majesty to a shadowy figure walking through a chainlink fence into the dark, with only a glowing esoteric sword to light the way. — LH

Hannah Hill
Hannah Hill
1 / 2
1 / 2

Willa Nasatir

Los Angeles native Willa Nasatir is a former Flickr girl who, as a teenager, worked at American Apparel as the protégé of the brand’s creative director, taking photographs and creating advertising for the company. Her photography background informs her recent paintings, echoing the flatness of photographic imagery — standing in contrast to the propulsive dynamics of her psychedelic, abstract paintings that border on surrealist. Using imagery like teeth, X-rays, and children’s toys, Nasatir is interested in distortion, in the logic of dreams, and in psychoanalytic perspectives. — SJ

Sink by Willa Nasatir

Caleb Hahne Quintana

Part of Denver-born, New York-based painter Caleb Hahne Quintana’s practice is about reclaiming his Mexican identity. His exquisite, personal paintings, such as one of a hand brushing his mother’s amber hair, feel like getting brief access to someone else’s memory, only to find out it’s a dream. Much of his work takes place in the melancholic, yet hopeful light of dusk. Using luscious gradients, his work swells into a hard-to-pin feeling of devotion. He is drawn largely to natural landscapes — water in particular is a motif — whether it be a painting of a figure floating while smoking a cigarette, or a man standing on a black stallion up to its calves in white sand and cyan ocean water. — SJ

Poem Of The Plains by Caleb Hahne Quintana