Aqua Art Miami 2022 opens in South Beach

Photo credit: Lauren Ferrer

What happens when you put one-of-a-kind modern art, traditional craftsmanship and a UM student all in the same room? You get this review of Aqua Art’s VIP preview from The Miami Hurricane. Although every artist and gallery in attendance is to be commended for their outstanding work, a few artists and their stories stood out among the rest.

Aqua Art Miami hosted its 16th edition VIP Preview on Nov. 30 before opening to the public from Dec. 1-4. The gallery-style exhibit has become a hub for collectors and art professionals, conveniently scheduled alongside its sister fairs — Art Miami, CONTEXT and Art Basel Miami Beach. With a focus on emerging artists, Aqua Art Miami will showcase unique styles of art ranging in techniques and mediums in an intimate South Beach hotel gallery setting.

Sonia Atlantova & Olexander Klimenko

Photo credit: Lauren Ferrer

On behalf of the Black and White Project Space, a Ukraine Charity Collection was set up in the hotel for purchase with the slogan “Buy an Icon, Save a Life in Ukraine.”

Ukrainian native artists Sonia Atlantova and Olexander Klimenko use the wooden remains of ammunition boxes abandoned by soldiers fighting on Ukrainian battlefields to paint icons. All sale proceeds are then donated to mobile hospitals that provide care to wounded Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, their work stands more relevant than ever. The icons have been presented worldwide and have raised $450,00 since their founding. Since October, the project has been supporting the Hospital of Luke the Apostle.

Natan Elkanovich

Photo credit: Lauren Ferrer

Natan Elkanovich’s contemporary art styles are best accompanied by his compelling upbringing. Born in Moldova under the communist regime of the USSR, Elkanovich found his childhood lacked creative freedom.

Starting a new chapter in Israel, Elkanovich attended Shenkar College of Engineering and Design where he earned a Bachelor of design with a focus on fashion design. Along with a thriving career as a painter, Elkanovich worked as a costume designer for Israeli cinema and TV. In this role, he was awarded the Israeli academy award for best costume design four times.

Currently, Elkanovich uses a 3D painting technique to create mesmerizing portraits. The mixing of mediums ranging from plastics to silicon the textures on the work are intricate and effective. As a son of a Holocaust survivor and a prisoner a communist regime, Elkanovich chooses to celebrate life and its gifts and portray it through his art.

Stephen Wilson

Photo credit: Lauren Ferrer

Using embroidery and creative techniques from his background in fashion and home design, Stephen Wilson’s unique style stands out among the rest. Each item represents a blend of classic techniques with contemporary culture.

For Wilson, each piece begins with an upcycled luxury item — a bag, box or scarf. These deconstructed items serve as the canvas for his next creation. Embroidering directly on his chosen medium, patterns and texture brings Wilson’s work to life.

De Von

Contemporary pop-artist De Von mixes paintings, photography and other mixed media to create eye-catching pieces that stop gallery-goers in their tracks. Tracing his lineage to Andy Warhol, the father of pop art, De Von carries his influence into the 21st century.

Photo credit: Lauren Ferrer

De Von collaborated with his mentor Steve Kaufman, the former assistant to Warhol. After screen printing his photos, De Von then goes over the piece with acrylic paint and other mediums such as enamel, black light or wood to create 3-dimensional portraits.

As a Utah native, De Von has previously invited the students of Park City Elementary to paint a 2500 square foot mural on the floor of his studio. He then invited the students and their families to the Sundance Film Festival where art was given to the 400+ students in attendance.

Every year De Von’s studio is open to the Sundance Film Festival, creating an open space for art, fellowship and music to come together.

The reviews above are simply four of the many artists who exhibited their collections at Aqua Art’s gallery exhibit. Miami Art Week brought together multitudes of artists, collectors and gallery-goers in the classic South Beach hotel to celebrate contemporary modern art in all its forms.