Elephant’s Pick of October’s Essential Artists

Imaginary suburbs and sumptuous feasts jostle with one another in the works of this month’s unmissable artists

Ming Ying

The RCA graduate’s paintings warp and ripple as if seen through a rain-soaked window. Born in Beijing but based in London, Ming Ying tackles ideas of alienation and disconnection by creating scenes that always seem somewhat distant from the viewer. Her thick impasto often collides with flat gradients of colour, revealing a clash between the abstract and figurative, which is informed by western art historical subjects and Buddhist principles of constant flux.

Ying is exhibiting as part of Thesmophoria, online art gallery Purslane’s first real-world exhibition, mounted in support of Women for Women’s Afghanistan relief fund. (Holly Black)




Caroline Wong

Eating a bowl of noodles in hot broth is a unique pleasure, the steam rising around your face as you slurp and scoop. For Caroline Wong, the act of painting and drawing conjures similar emotions. The Malaysian-born artist focuses on the sensuous pleasures of eating in her recent series playfully titled Hungry Drawings and Gluttonous Works. East-Asian women are shown tucking into their food with greedy abandon, a response to the racialised stereotypes that still pervade popular culture of them as restrained and dainty.

Trained as a traditional portraitist, Wong’s images make use of rough pastels and crayons to celebrate unashamed excess and the simple joy of being full at the end of a meal. (Louise Benson)

Bethany Czarnecki, Flourish II, 2021. Courtesy Massey Klein Gallery
Bethany Czarnecki, Flourish II, 2021. Courtesy Massey Klein Gallery

Bethany Czarnecki

The influence of Georgia O’Keeffe, Huguette Caland and Hilma af Klint is evident in Bethany Czarnecki’s work. The artist uses a vibrant colour palette that seem to radiate from the canvas, with allusions to the metaphysical and the erotic.

The delicate layers of oil are designed to evoke an intense sensory experience when witnessed in the flesh, yet they also hold an enthralling quality when seen digitally. The carefully constructed strips of colour appear to represent both positive and negative space, constantly readjusting with one’s eye.

Czarnecki’s new solo exhibition splendor is at the Massey Klein Gallery in New York from 15 October to 20 November. (Holly Black)




Natalie Wadlington

California-born but now living in east Texas, Natalie Wadlington frequently returns to her home state in her paintings, depicting scenes from a fictional neighbourhood near San Francisco’s Bay Area. She recently showed a series of works at Detroit’s Library Street Collective, highlighting the loss of natural space in the state, as domestic spaces encroach on the world around them.

Many of her paintings show children and animals (“innocents” in the climate crisis) interacting with nature. In one a child is transfixed by a daisy chain, surrounded by neat grass and garden fences; in another, a domestic cat playfully eyes up a rotund yellow bird, which in turn approaches a worm, all three creatures encircled by pruned pink roses. Wadlington’s vibrant colour palette offers a positive feel, but the deep entanglement of the domestic and natural signals a dangerous connection that can perhaps never be undone. (Emily Steer)

Charmaine Watkiss, Warriors Inhabit Mind Body and Spirit, 2021

Charmaine Watkiss

Creates soft, intricate drawings, Charmaine Watkiss’ images often include a single inky colour, such as midnight blue. For her upcoming show at Tiwani Contemporary, however, she brings in a full spectrum of colour, imbuing pencil portraits of female “plant warriors” with rich tones from the natural world. She has a keen interest in the medicinal qualities of plants, and these recent works explore the history of women facilitating this knowledge through generations.

“The natural world is at the forefront of most of our imaginations right now; and this show will explore narratives around ancient plant knowledge and its relationship to women of African descent,” writes the gallery. Watkiss graduated from Wimbledon College of Art with a masters in drawing in 2018 and is part of the 2021 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. (Emily Steer)