Miami Art Week 2023: Toju Clarke, Marc Padeu, and others rewrite the narratives on cultural codes 

Vibrant and full of inspiration, Miami celebrated art in all its expressions and gave space to diverse talents with solid narratives through their works.

As the new year unfolds and the world prepares for the upcoming art events around the globe, we reflect on the last and most anticipated celebration for the arts in 2023. This was the Miami Art Week.

It was an unprecedented fair that welcomed artists from all over the world, where proposals were seen not only in new materials to express human feelings but also to learn about new and bold narratives that reappropriate cultural codes.

In a recount of the most popular artists during this celebrated week, here is a selection of the artworks and their authors that will set a new perspective in 2024.

Bisa Butler

Highlife (2023) via Joe Nickel

Recognised for her large-scale works through textile art, the African-American artist has created a way of expression through quilted fabrics. Her central narrative is based on telling the stories of Afro-descendant characters from ancient and contemporary photographic archives.

Through her work, Bisa has proposed a new way of creating portraits in the world of art that resonates. This has earned her a well-deserved space. In her artwork titled “Highlife,” she portrays a man from a photograph by Joe Nickel. The work shows us all the regalia that projects not only style but the dignification of self-expression. You can find more of her work here.

Marc Padeu

Le repaz chez Roxane (2023) via Marc Padeu

Born in Melong, Cameroon, in his exhibited artwork during Art Basel, he took us into a story from his own experiences.

He makes us imagine dialogues through the stimulation and use of vibrant colors and contrasts of subjects that recreate a scene around the table. What are they talking about? What are they celebrating? Those are just a few questions that he makes us imagine in his work,  “Le repaz chez Roxane.”

In his proposal, Padeu shows us everyday scenes under a monumentality that stimulates memories in our minds and consciousness. Dive deep into Marc’s artistic use of colours and subjects here.

Toju Clarke

Africans and Escape (2023) via Toju Clarke

The intersection of art and fashion has always been evident, and in portraits, it is almost impossible to separate one from the other to understand the contexts. In that sense, Toju Clarke, a Nigerian artist who exhibited at the Prizm Art Fair exhibition under the collective Afrikart Ghana during Miami Art Week, proposed a dialogue between the complexities of the transculturation that migration entails.

Through his portraits and reading of the costumes of his subjects, we understand what the word “migration” entails when we expose ourselves to places we inhabit without belonging. You can see more of his work here.

Raelis Vasquez

El major sazón, ‘the best seasoning,’ (2023) via Raelis Vasquez

Africanity and Latiness—the complex and intersectional themes that run through Raelis’s work—are addressed from a perspective involving humanity’s noble feelings.

In his artworks, we can find a warm, friendly, and vulnerable dialogue that takes us into the stories of a friendly neighbourhood. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Raelis emigrated to the United States to face complex scenarios that question identity. As a reflection of this, his candid works explore his definition as an immigrant, painter, and Dominican.

Hebru Brantley

Have you heard? (2023) via Hebru Brantley

The artworks by Hebru Brantley bring us closer to art in a fun way. This aims to address social issues in imaginary conversations. The themes range between hope and power, time and violence, innocence and provocation.

Through animated characters that appeal to our innocence, Hebru creates dialogues that question, reason, and imagine contemporary problems subtly without being shocking.

April Bey

They Still Glorify Labor and Toxic Resilience but Can`t Even Duplicate Their Limbs 2023 via April Bey

Sometimes, being frontal to address controversial topics is the way to go, and that is what April Bey uses in her works to be evident.

Her monumental artworks question, confront, and amaze to create conversations. These navigate feminism, Afro-futurism, neo-colonialism, and the channels where the real conversation is—social media.

Originally from the Bahamas, April resides in California, where she makes social criticism based on an American context.


  • Nando Yax

    Nando Yax is an art and design curator based in Guatemala City. You can visit his website and Instagram page here.

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