Sam Falls uses the natural world to create artworks that explore the materiality of colour and light through photographic techniques and everyday objects. He creates his abstract landscapes by covering large canvasses with organic matter, such as branches, leaves and flowers, from a specific locale, dusting the arrangement with pigment and leaving them exposed to the elements. When the organic elements are removed, they leave behind silhouettes and patterns imprinted upon the canvas, like enigmatic ghosts. Each work – intimately linked to the place of its making and the meteorological and environmental conditions that it experienced – becomes a unique time-specific record of the natural world. Born in 1984 in San Diego, Sam Falls studied physics, linguistics and philosophy before becoming an artist; he now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Urs Fischer is best known for his large-scale sculptures and installations that reveal a deep fascination in the spontaneous processes of transformation and decay. His work, which often features monumental everyday objects, includes a life-sized Swiss chalet made from loaves of sourdough bread, foam and wood; a painted aluminium sculpture of a huge packet of cigarettes intersected by half a dining chair; and a monumental 20-tonne, 7-metre-high bronze sculpture in which a large desk lamp springs from the head of a giant teddy bear. Fischer’s most recent work has included life-sized wax sculptures of people made as candles. They are lit and left to burn until the sculpture has melted and disintegrated. Urs Fischer was born in 1973 in Zurich, Switzerland, where he studied photography at the Schule für Gestaltung. He now lives and works in New York.
Alex Israel’s work places the artist at the centre of a searching exploration of popular media, Hollywood, the cult of celebrity and the American dream, as seen through the lens of his hometown, Los Angeles. His wide-ranging oeuvre mixes art and branding, the cultural and the commercial, in a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, murals, a sunglasses brand, an ongoing talk-show series with leading Californian cultural figures (As it Lays), and a feature-length film (SPF-18). At the heart of his work is a forensic, yet heartfelt study of the city of Los Angeles, built upon curiosity and a drive to locate his own changing place within the city’s nexus of creativity, influence and desire. For Israel, to focus in on Los Angeles and its powerful cultural and social spheres, its contradictions and its beauty, is to understand the obsessions not just of America, but also of the world. Born in 1982, Alex Israel graduated from Yale University, Connecticut (BA), and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (MFA).
Nicholas Hlobo’s installations and intricate two- and three-dimensional objects are both a commentary on the democratic realities of South Africa since the end of apartheid’s legalised discrimination in 1994, and an investigation of his own ethnic, gender and cultural identity. Born in Cape Town in 1975, Hlobo studied fine art at Technikon Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he still lives. His hybrid artworks are melded and woven together from tactile materials, such as discarded ribbon, leather, wood and rubber. In these works, each of the chosen materials has a specific association with a different form of personal or political identity, allowing Hlobo to create complex visual narratives that reflect – and reflect upon – the dichotomies of modern-day South Africa, and his own position and experiences within it.
Tschabalala Self’s artistic practice is concerned with the iconographic significance of the black female body in contemporary US culture, as well as its emotional, physical and psychological impact. Examining the intersection of race, gender and sexuality, Self looks at how collective fantasies around the black female body have created a cultural niche in which lies our understanding of black femininity. Her depictions of exaggerated female bodies are built upon a multi-layered use of painting and printmaking, using sewn, printed and painted materials that draw upon different artistic and craft traditions. Born in Harlem, New York, in 1990, Tschabalala Self graduated from Bard College in 2012 and Yale School of Art in 2015. She currently lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut.
With their disorientating compressions of space and saturation of patterns, Jonas Wood’s lush and colourful works invoke the worlds of artists such as Henri Matisse and David Hockney. The Los Angeles-based artist’s works are composed from a process of layering and collaging from sources like photographs and drawings, which he transforms through distinctive variations of shapes, colours and geometric patterns. Wood often uses the outlines of pots and vases – created by his artist wife, Shio Kusaka – as frames within the frame, covering the vessels with striking images featuring bright green golf courses, coral reefs and exotic fish, basketballs, a luxuriant garden or a painter’s studio. Jonas Wood was born in Boston, USA, in 1977. He graduated in 1999 from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York, and was awarded an MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2002.