VIA Art Fund Presents: Three Artists to Watch

Bridgitt Evans and Lisa Schiff, Co-Founders, VIA Art Fund
November 19, 2015

Three groundbreaking artists have recently caught the eye of the international art scene. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be hearing more about these up-and-comers and their innovative approach to multimedia art. With roots in San Juan, Los Angeles and London, these diverse artists offer thought-provoking, modern work through a variety of media. Collectors -- and appreciators -- are sure to be inspired.

Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla

The collaborative duo met 20 years ago as art students abroad in Florence, Italy, and recently represented the USA in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). Today, they are based in San Juan, Puerto Rico and have a widespread presence throughout most of Europe. Within the past few years, the pair has extended their reach to include the United States with works featured in the public collections of both the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Princeton University Art Museum, among others.

Previous works have included Track and Field, an inverted military tank topped with a treadmill upon which an Olympic runner sprints stationary, and Algorithm, a working ATM machine embedded in the belly of a pipe organ that plays a unique tune whenever a user enters their PIN number. Both works were part of the duo’s exhibition “Gloria,” installed in front of the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011. While the pair prefers to avoid labeling their work as political, they do explore cultural and political themes and tensions – both historical and current – through performance, sculpture, sound, video and photography.

The duo’s current project – Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), 2015 – is a long-term commission by Dia Art Foundation sited in a limestone cave at El Convento Natural Protected Area in South Puerto Rico. Incorporating Dan Flavin’s 1965 light sculpture Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake), it explores issues of power, representation, and post-colonial dislocation.

Puerto Rican Light - Allora and Calzadilla
Allora & Calzadilla, Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), 2015. Guayanilla–Peñuelas, Puerto Rico. © Allora & Calzadilla. Photo: Myritza Castillo.

Alex Israel

Born and raised in Los Angeles, 33-year-old Alex Israel blends Hollywood culture and the SoCal geographic landscape with a dose of fantasy to create work that reflects the celebrity and entertainment environ in which he’s been raised. The artist has become well known for his large-scale, air brushed renderings of the Los Angeles sky, as well as large multimedia installations that feature movie house props. Israel crosses the line from visual art to film, most notably as the host and creator of his 2012 YouTube talk show “As It Lays,” through which he interviewed dozens of celebrities, including actress Melanie Griffith, magazine publisher Larry Flynt and big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton.

Israel’s work looks at how we view and live within the constructs of televisuality and virtuality using a combination of film, sculpture, painting, canvas, the internet and mural arts. It’s gained the attention of connoisseurs worldwide, including the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

His upcoming project, SPF-18, is grounded in a feature-length film, however it also includes related artwork, a soundtrack, digital outreach and a high school curriculum. Inspired by 80’s teen films and L.A. Film Noir, the project uses entertainment as a conduit for inspiration, imagination and creativity for a diverse audience.

Summer - Alex Israel
Installation view of Summer, 2015 at Almine Rech Gallery, Paris. Self Portrait (U.S. Open of Surfing) and Lens (Yellow). Photography: Zarko Vijatovic.

Random International

This London-based studio collaborative formed in 2005 as the brainchild of visual artists Hannes Koch, Florian Ortkrass and Stuart Wood. The group develops installation-based art that explores human perception, behavior and intuition. Take Rain Room, for example, an indoor downpour that uses three-dimensional depth cameras to allow visitors to stand in the middle of the falling water – without getting wet. Sensors note the location of visitors and shut the rain off around them as they move through the piece. Described as “startling” and “surreal,” the installation, first set in The Barbican in London and later at MoMA in New York, serves as a platform to explore not just the multimedia art itself, but also the public’s reaction to it.  "It's the same with all of our work: it doesn't make sense without anyone there," said artist Ortkrass in an interview with The Guardian. Rain Room can be currently viewed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Random International’s upcoming project, 15 Points, is a kinetic installation that explores the field of robotics within a Picasso-Einstein framework by drawing on the integration of modern science and modern art. Through the rendering of a three-dimensional android and the manipulation of fifteen light points’ movement, the piece explores human perception, including our ability (or inability) to identify mechanical versus animate motion. 15 Points will debut at Le Laboratoire, Cambridge in 2016, and potential partnerships are in discussion with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Art Basel (2016), and the Picasso Museum (2017).

Rain Room - Random International
Installation of Rain Room, 2013 at The Barbican in London. Photography. Felix Clay.

This guest post was written by Lisa Schiff and Bridgitt Evans, Co-Founders of VIA Art Fund, a nonprofit where art patrons join forces as partners in a new model of philanthropy to support (V)isionary (I)nitiatives in (A)rt. To learn more, please visit, and be sure to follow them on Twitter @VIAArtFund, Instagram #viaartfund and Facebook.

The views of the authors of this article do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.