Elephant’s Pick of December’s Essential Artists

Art that only lives on the internet exists next to sculptures that leave their mark on the real world in the work of this month’s artists

Mona Ardeleanu, Pomo 2021 III, 2021. Courtesy the artist and König Gallery

Mona Ardeleanu

For The Padding, her first exhibition in the UK, Mona Ardeleanu is showing a selection of paintings that play with ideas of protection and healing. Her highly detailed works combine soft floral patterning with items typically used to support or shield the human body: bows and ornate fabrics cover shoulder pads, car air bags and seat belts.

On display at London’s König Gallery (until 22 January 2022), these unusual paintings are inspired by a snowboarding accident the artist suffered in her teens, and they explore the ultimate frailty of the human body. (Emily Steer)

Shanique Emelife, Belonging, 2021

Shanique Emelife

The warmth that is created by community is elegantly conveyed in Shanique Emelife’s sensitive paintings. Village, her current show at Fortnight Institute in New York (until 9 January 2022) is an exploration of humans’ relationship with one another through eye contact, physical touch and social gathering.

Even figures who appear to be alone, those sitting on their own or standing off to the side of the group, are shown in relation to the life around them, whether the more sociable main group of people or the plants that surround them. “The village is not a mute and static object,” writes the gallery. “It comes alive in the intimacy that we let in.” (Emily Steer)



Rachael House

She is probably best known for queer zines such as Colouring Outside the Lines and Hanky Panky, but Rachael House’s practice extends across events, workshops, performances and objects that aim to bring like-minded people together from within the art world and beyond.

Let the Right One In, her latest project at London’s Newlyn Art Gallery (until 8 January 2022), harnesses spiritual and shamanic power through a series of “genderqueer deity sculptures” that protect visitors from gender conformity and bigoted thought, and a series of joyful and optimistic hand-painted tiles that are adorned with welcoming messages. At such a time of fear and uncertainty, what could be more fitting? (Holly Black)

Rindon Johnson, Coeval Proposition #2: Last Year’s Atlantic, or You Look Really Good, You Look Like You Pretended Like Nothing Ever Happened, or a Weakening (install), 2021. Photo by Andy Keate. Courtesy the artist

Rindon Johnson

Walking along a central stretch of London’s Hertford Union Canal, passers-by are faced with a striking sculpture of ebonised redwood and steel, two intersecting pointed arrowheads floating next to rows of derelict warehouses. Rindon Johnson’s piece references the Transamerica Pyramid in his hometown San Francisco, posing questions of place, origin and longevity far from home.

The now Berlin-based writer and artist pairs the sculpture with a large-scale video installation inside the adjacent Chisenhale Gallery (until 6 February 2022), a real-time mapping of weather data collected from a section of the North Atlantic ocean, one year on from its capture. Another recent film moves beyond climate contemplation towards future fiction, a virtual reality love story between coworkers at a meat-growing plant. (Ravi Ghosh)

  • Sophie Larrimore, Bordering Magic, 2021
  • Sophie Larrimore, Perennial Crush, 2021
  • Sophie Larrimore, Bordering Magic (left), Perennial Crush (right), 2021. Courtesy the artist and Kate Werble Gallery

Sophie Larrimore

There’s a touch of The Garden of Earthly Delights about Sophie Larrimore’s works, which are packed with poodles, female nudes, shrubbery and flowing water. Figures and symbols jostle for space on her flattened plains, depicted in acrylic and crayon on un-primed linen.

Desire Path, her current show at New York’s Kate Werble Gallery (until 27 January 2022), includes a selection of seven new paintings. Larrimore invites viewers to create their own narratives and connections in these playful works, in which naked women straddle prickly tree trunks, tiny dogs lounge in garden borders and giant birds perch in neat bushes. (Emily Steer)

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  • Rafaël Rozendaal, moving driving .com (still screenshot)

Rafaël Rozendaal

Dutch-Brazilian artist Rafaël Rozendaal has been adding to his ‘websites’ series for more than a decade. The internet artist creates single, evolving digital pages which, for obvious reasons, can be accessed by anyone in the world at any time. One is a central red square with smaller blue squares moving hypnotically around it; another is a wobbling red jelly.

By presenting websites in a gallery setting (until 23 December at Site Gallery, Sheffield), Rozendaal probes our assumptions around the individuality, privacy and collective enjoyment of the internet. The show, Permanent Distraction, also includes Everything I Eat I Tweet, the artist’s Twitter food diary which he’s been updating for 13 years (9 November: ‘bit of burger, some fries’). (Ravi Ghosh)