Los Angeles-based, internationally exhibiting contemporary artist Piero Golia is an enigmatic character who defies clear definition. Working across a variety of media and disciplines, the Italian-born artist is an instigator of bizarre performances and creator of unusual artworks that form a playful and biting constructive critique of the contemporary art world.Read More
Piero Golia's works, which blur the boundaries between painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and conceptual art, have been shown in group and solo exhibitions across Europe and the United States, including major exhibitions at institutions such as The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2010); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006); National Gallery of Arts, Tirana, Albania (2001); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007); MAXXI, Rome (2010); and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014). His artworks can also be found in significant permanent collections such as those of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples; and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Born in Naples in 1974, Piero Golia trained as an engineer before turning to art as a career. Self-taught, he never set foot in an art school. He made his first major exhibition debut at the turn of the millenium, appearing in Castel Sant'Elmo's group show Castles in the air: Art in Naples at the end of the millenium (Naples, 2000).
From the outset, Piero Golia has defied and subverted contemporary art conventions, playing with notions of time, form, and delivery at a conceptual level. In 2003 the artist melted down his Saab after a car accident, turning it into a unicorn sculpture that he then sold as Untitled (Y3AT35SIE1029489) to pay off debts.
In 2008, making his first appearance in a show in Los Angeles, Piero Golia revisited the notion of a repurposing a vehicle for the Bortolami Gallery booth at Art LA. His featured work at the show, Untitled (2008) comprised of a bus crushed down to fill the small space of the art fair booth.
Not singularly obessed with vehicles, over the years Piero Golia has engaged in many bizarre projects, such as borrowing one million dollars from a bank in order to take two pictures of it (2007) and installing a glowing orb—Luminous Sphere (2010)—on the roof of the Standard Hotel, overlooking Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The orb only activates when the artist is in town.
Time is a key factor in Piero Golia's practice, breaking down the barriers that confine works to a single exhibition period. Interconnected sequential events are a speciality in Golia's career. In 2006, for instance, a performance involved disappearing completely from New York for three weeks with no contact then resurfacing in Copenhagen, where he gave a lecture at the Royal Academy of Arts on his own disappearance.
In 2014 Piero Golia embarked on an extended project refered to as The Comedy of Craft, spanning three acts and an intermission across several years and distinct locations. Act one was performed at the Hammer Museum during the 2014 Made In L.A. biennial and involved carving out of foam an exact copy of President George Washington's nose on Mount Rushmore.
The second act, performed during Prospect.3 in New Orleans the same year, involved a team of art students making a plaster mould of the foam replica. Between the second and third act was the show Intermission Paintings (2015), held at Gagosian in Rome, which featured offcuts of foam from the initial carving, coated in hard polymer and painted. The product of the third act—a poured bronze cast of Washington's nose made from the mould—appeared in 2018 in the show Solutions to Mortality at Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, Kansas.
In addition to his art practice, in 2005, Piero Golia co-founded The Mountain School of Arts with fellow artist Eric Wesley. The school operates out of the Mountain Bar in the heart of Los Angeles' China Town. Golia has been clear to distinguish the initiative as separate from his art practice, with the school being intended for education and not as another medium for the artist.
The Mountain School of Arts has become the longest-running artist-run school in California. It has provided budding artists in Los Angeles and from across the globe with access to free seminars taught by artists such as Dan Graham, Pierre Huyghe, Paul McCarthy, and Richard Jackson, as well as an interdisciplinary curriculum extending far beyond the boundaries of art. Adding to his academic credentials Golia has lectured at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Piero Golia continues to push the boundaries of art and the role of the artist with his audience. In his work The Painter (2016) the artist confounded ideas of authorship and inspiration by programming a robotic arm to paint particular symbols and patterns on a canvas in response to visitors entering the gallery.
Biography by Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020