Cocoa butter poems and splashing colors: Discover five young artists in ‘OVR: Pioneers’

Sky Goodden, Art Basel, March 12, 2021

Of the broad generational array of artists featuring in Art Basel’s ‘OVR: Pioneers’, it is, surprisingly, the practices of the youngest that stretch across historical epochs, unsettling our disturbed present even further. Here, we spotlight five of these visionaries, who are pushing boundaries both material and temporal.


Blessing Ngobeni (b. 1985) has been asking himself, ‘What have we learned from the errors of history?’ Observing the halting democratization of post-apartheid South Africa, the Johannesburg-based artist concerns himself with ‘the constant repetition of mistakes’ across mixed-media canvases that jostle with narrative contravention. But his project is also more global. He identifies his governing desire to leave behind ‘those who think Blackness is cursed. A process to change how history paints us.’ Appearing in Jenkins Johnson Gallery’s (New York City and San Francisco) viewing room, Ngobeni was named in Phaidon’s Vitamin P3 (2016) as one of the leading African painters working today, with his work being described as ‘characterized by obsessive mark making [and] suggestive of the corrupting nature of power.’