The crudely amped-up art market built by the likes of Gagosian, Zwirner, and the auction houses has overwhelmed critical dialogue. But are they the only culprits? In “Bill by Bill” a solo exhibition at Charlie James Gallery, William Powhida blames artists themselves–Hirst, Richter, Koons, Guyton, and uber-artist wannabes–for their self-defeating complicity in a woefully corrupt system that has made a handful of participants fabulously wealthy while leaving everyone else barely able to pay the rent.
“After years of
going to art fairs intensive market research ‘Bill by Bill’ represents a decisive breakthrough for the artist into the fields of sculpture and painting by creating unique variations on some of the dominant formulas trends in contemporary art,” the press release sardonically reads. “‘Bill by Bill’ brings together classic Modernist forms with bleeding edge post-studio, conceptually-based (footnote: this does not mean conceptual) practices to create a mercenary stunning vision of contemporary art.”
Enlisting assistants, family and friends to create low-budget versions of the most ubiquitous art fair art, from hard-edge abstract paintings, large-scale digital prints on canvas, and casual materialist paintings to discrete sculptural objects (tastefully arranged on a shelf), neon text pieces, and shiny geometric sculpture, Powhida masterfully spoofs the full range of methods artists have used to produce the massive amount of art objects that high-end galleries need to lard art fair booths and gallery outposts around the world.
overindulged 1% with the more modest material explorations of
artists, particularly those of his friends in Bushwick. His larger point stands, however. It is not only the frenzied, dollarized ignorance of collectors that is responsible for turning artists into soulless careerists who
oversee small armies of assistants and outsource production.
Powhida’s exhibition, grounded in satire, shows that artists, to a
significant degree, have brought it on themselves.
“William Powhida: Bill by Bill,” Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Through June 8, 2013.