5 Artists to Watch at Art Basel Miami Beach This Year

Lead Photo: Firelei Báez Index to a Memory Table (for those wildin' out in the land of Juan Rodriguez), (detail) 2013 .
Firelei Báez Index to a Memory Table (for those wildin' out in the land of Juan Rodriguez), (detail) 2013 .
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With over 267 galleries participating in 18 satellite fairs across the city, countless parties and late-night events, it’s not exactly easy to stand out at Art Basel. And while heading to Miami for a week usually means you’re down for a 24/7 fiesta, Miami Art Week is a little different: sure, you could spend the week crashing the city’s most exclusive parties, or you could take the opportunity to discover the art world’s next wave of heavy hitters in contemporary Latin American art.

Historically, Miami Art Week has strayed from focusing specifically on Latin American artists, but this year’s fair will be a little different – with New York’s Pinta art fair making its debut in Miami this year, over 50 galleries from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal will be exhibiting works from their roster of contemporaries and masters alike. Added to scores of shows popping up at galleries and museum spaces all over the city, this year’s Miami Art Week highlights Latin American artists like none ever before.

Since you can’t be everywhere at once (and we know you’ve tried) we thought you could use a little help: From painting and sculpture to performance and old-fashioned photography, these are the artists whose work you won’t want to miss during Miami Art Week.


Cristina Lei Rodriguez

Miami born and bred, artist Cristina Lei Rodriguez has plenty to brag about during Basel. For one, she’s one of the only Latin American artists featured in the Rubell Family Collection’s highly anticipated exhibition, No Man’s Land, which features works by 100 female artists the Rubells have collected over the years. As for new work, Lei Rodriguez is staying quite busy during Basel – installing a solo show at 1 Hotel & Residences in Miami Beach, and another site-specific installation, Prismatic, at Miami’s freshly minted Kit & Ace in Wynwood, a perfect partner for the artist since Lei Rodriguez’s work, ethereal sculptures created with metallic and other raw materials, is often inspired by fashion design. She’ll also participate in a group show of local artists, 100+ Degrees in the Shade, a survey of the South Florida arts community featuring works by 170 local artists in venues across the city.


Kiki Valdes

Cuban-American painter Kiki Valdes makes art for the anti-Basel crowd. His large-scale paintings, often cartoon-like in nature, shun typical art world conventions of what makes art worth buying. While Valdes is accustomed to presenting his work at unconventional, under-visited venues during Art Basel – his 2011 show The Outsiders was presented in an abandoned warehouse in the once-downtrodden, now-hip Little River district – this year Valdes will show a series of new paintings he created while in residence at the Miami-Dade Public Library’s pop-up studio artists program.


Roberto Huarcaya

Peruvian artist Roberto Huarcaya draws inspiration from his native land to create unusual photography of the Amazon forests in southeastern Peru. Using a technique invented in the 1800s called photogram, Huarcaya translates the lush diversity of this environment by using light sensitive paper that retains an imprint of living flora. This process, the artist says, “requires patience – you must wait for the image to translate from the wild to the paper.” Huarcaya’s surreal images will be presented in an exhibition entitled Amazogramas at Dina Mitrani Gallery in Wynwood.


Firelei Báez

Firelei Báez, Ciguapa Pantera (to all the goods and pleasures of this world), 2015
Courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. Photo: Oriol Tarridas

Dominican artist Firelei Báez presents Bloodlines at Miami’s flagship museum, quite the feat for the young artist, a semi-recent graduate of Cooper Union in 2004. Bloodlines traces the history of social movements between the United States and the Caribbean, breaking down notions of race and class through richly hued paintings depicting textiles, body ornaments, and hair designs. Báez will show her work alongside her mentor and former professor, Brooklyn-based artist Nari Ward, whose exhibition Sun Splashed examines similar themes of Caribbean and African diaspora.


Almudena Lobera

Spanish artist Almudena Lobera will present quite an unorthodox work for the inauguration of the new Faena Miami Beach hotel on Collins Avenue. A Site to Behold will create a theatrical backdrop of Miami’s iconic shoreline, suspending a flaming red curtain and rows of seats right on the beach behind the Faena. Lobera, whose work tends to draw the focus on the observer’s experience, is widely recognized despite her age – at just 31 years old, Lobera has exhibited across Europe and Latin America.