IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

6 queer artists to watch at Art Basel in Miami Beach

From painters to sculptors, these artists are bringing attention to LGBTQ identities at the world-renowned art show.
Art Basel attendees viewing a painting by Ambera Wellmann at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Dec. 2, 2021.
Art Basel attendees viewing a painting by Ambera Wellmann at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Thursday.Art Basel

After a yearlong hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the international art fair Art Basel is returning to Miami Beach with 253 exhibitors displaying their work before a crowd of tens of thousands.   

Among those whose work will be on display at the large-scale exhibition, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, are queer painters, sculptors and mixed-media artists who are highlighting LGBTQ issues, identity and race in their artwork.

Vaginal Davis

The paintings of Vaginal Davis at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Dec. 2, 2021.Scott Rudd / Art Basel

Vaginal Davis, an intersex artist based in Berlin, creates art using a mix of cosmetics, beauty products and other materials. Davis’ work shines a light on unconventional beauty standards as well as queer historical figures and feminist leaders, according to Adams and Ollman, a gallery in Portland, Oregon, that represents her work. Art Basel describes Davis as an “artistic trailblazer,” noting that she “broke new ground with a disruptive performance aesthetic known as ‘terrorist drag.’” Several of Davis’ lesser-known paintings will be part of a group display in Art Basel’s Nova section.

Brendan Fernandes

Brendan Fernandes’ installation, “Contract and Release,” at Art Basel.Art Basel

Brendan Fernandes (he/they) is a Chicago-based artist who was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Fernandes’ artwork focuses on race, identity and queer culture. This year, they are showcasing the display “Contract and Release,” which will be part of Art Basel’s Meridians section, which is dedicated to large-scale artworks. Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago is presenting “Contract and Release,” which examines the intersections of life, sculpture and dance. Currently, Fernandes is an artist-in-residency and assistant professor at Northwestern University.

Sunil Gupta

Sunil Gupta’s “Lovers: Ten Years Later” photo series at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Art Basel

The London-based artist Sunil Gupta is exhibiting his vintage photo series “Lovers: Ten Years On,” which aims to disrupt homophobic and stigmatizing stereotypes of LGBTQ couples. Some of the subjects depicted in the photos died during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. In this series, Gupta “sought to meet and photograph queer people in long-term relationships to try to understand the recent break up of his own,” according to New York- and London-based Hales Gallery, which represents the artist. 

Ad Minoliti

Ad Minoliti’s paintings (back wall) in an Art Basel group showing with the work of artist Zadie Xa.Courtesy of the artist and Galería Agustina Ferreyra

Ad Minoliti of Berlin and Buenos Aires presents several recent works that tackle family, alternative universes, the experiences of nonbinary communities and societies that trace descent through a mother’s ancestry. Minoliti’s work is being presented at Art Basel in a two-person show titled “Making Kin” along with the work of fellow artist Zadie Xa by Mexico City’s Galería Agustina Ferreyra.

Julie Tolentino

The work of mixed-media artist Julie Tolentino at Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Dec. 2, 2021.Scott Rudd / Art Basel

Filipino-Salvadoran (she/they) artist Julie Tolentino uses a mix of visual and archival art to highlight movement, memory, gender and queer themes. Tolentino was an original member of the radical AIDS activist group ACT UP New York and resides in Joshua Tree, California. Tolentino is represented by Commonwealth and Council, an art gallery in Los Angeles. 

Ambera Wellmann

A painting by Ambera Wellmann at the Miami Beach Convention Center.Art Basel

The New York-based Canadian painter Ambera Wellmann is presenting an “immersive installation” that investigates “the politics of queer space and futurity,” according to Art Basel, which noted that Wellmann’s work at this year’s fair “encourages a continued understanding of fantasy to reimagine the future and a deep desire to recreate the home differently, remaking the everyday world as an act of resistance.” New York-based Company Gallery is presenting Wellmann’s work at Art Basel.

Follow NBC Out on TwitterFacebook & Instagram