On July 27, 2011 Marlborough Chelsea will open a site-specific show titled “Powhida” featuring a new painting and performance by William Powhida. The blue-chip context adds a new layer to the artist’s unrelenting quest for recognition. “Look, Marlborough can do things for me no other gallery can,” the artist told A.i.A., in character.
A 2009 show, “No One Here Gets Out Alive,” at the Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, featured an interactive installation led by Powhida, who invited visitors to discuss their different takes on and experiences of the art world, a combination of elements previously on tap in earlier exhibitions in New York. He also showed a two-minute video biopic of the artist, who lived in luxury while critiquing artists, dealers and curators. By engaging the public, Powhida continues to create an alternate grand narrative for himself.
The artist has reached out to sponsors and expresses pride in having their logos attached to his exhibition. On August 5, there will be a series of performances, with cocktails provided by Pernod Absinthe. Other confirmed sponsors include the Mondrian Hotel in SoHo, Third Floor New York and Flavorpill. Powhida also seeks to connect himself with the weekly gallery crawl by applying his name to a brand of footwear, “casual yet sporty shoes to wear while cruising galleries in either the Lower East Side or Berlin.”
Powhida often poses as an agent of the counter-culture—one who expresses an array of common grievances. “Most art is terrible,” he says. “If I’ve done anything, I have mapped out my own path, from impoverished MFA student to international superstar.” Since 2007, Powhida’s caustic drawings and caricatures of various scales have included the most notable artists, gallerists, collectors, curators, and critics-depicted as cartoons or by name in colored lists. ABMB Hooverville (2010) portrays Miami Beach littered with small huts and caricatures, as part of his skewering of the annual festivities at Art Basel Miami Beach. Everyone is complicit in Powhida’s world.
The artist is prone to self-aggrandized soliloquy, which is meant to satire the grandiloquent styles of his subjects. Here his goal is,”to present the most important art work since Duchamp’s Fountain… Seghal, Abramovic, Koh, Tiravanija have all tried to dematerialize the object and replace it with experiences, interactions or themselves, and it’s time for me to do it right. I am the show.”
POWHIDA, Portrait of Genius (detail), 2011, Oil on canvas.