Kembra Pfahler

Kembra Pfahler

b. 1961, Hermosa Beach, CA

Lives and works in New York, NY


Kembra Pfahler is a New York-based artist and rock musician, best known as the painted lead singer of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, a theatrical death rock band she co-founded in 1990. The band uses music, drawings and films to spread a clear message of love in a beautiful, tsuristic, anti-natural, fearless and happy way to dispel the antiquated notion that there is a hierarchy of artistic mediums. In her art and music, Pfahler follows the philosophy of availabism—making the best of what’s available. This is apparent in the low tech props and homemade costumes the Girls of Karen Black don on stage and which fill Pfahler’s exhibition installations.

Pfahler’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at Deitch Projects, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, and The Hole, New York, NY, Rove Gallery, London, UK, and Hpgrp, Tokyo, Japan. She was a featured artist in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY. Pfahler’s work has been discussed in The New York Times, W magazine, and Rolling Stone, among others.


Select Solo Exhibitions 


Fuck Island, Participant Inc, New York, NY

Giverny, with E.V. Day, The Hole, New York, NY


Heaven & Helll, Deitch Projects at Bas Fisher Invitational, Miami, FL


File Under ‘V’, Rove Gallery, London, England


Availabism and Anti-naturalism: A Feminine Experiment, American Fine Arts Company

Riddle of the Sphinx, Deitch Projects, New York, New York

Tylenol Island, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY

Wet Rainbow, HaNNa, Hpgrp Tokyo, Japan


Selected Group Exhibitions 


Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY


Georg Gatsas: The Process VI, The Swiss Institute, New York, NY

Womanizer, Deitch Projects, New York, NY


The Extremism Show, ABC NoRio, New York, NY


The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Records


Black Date, Cleopatra Records


A National Healthcare, Triple X Records, 1990 The Anti-Naturalist, Cleopatra Records


Museum Collections 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

The Swiss Institute, New York, NY


Select Publications


Giverny catalog, The Hole, New York, NY


Dead Flowers, Vox Populi and Participant Press


Olon, Dominic et al. Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967. Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art


Metzger, Richard. Disinformation: The Interviews. New York: The Disinformation Company


Sargeant, Jack. Deathtripping: An Illustrated History of the Cinema of Transgression (Creation Cinema Collection). Washington D.C.: Creation Books, 2 Rev Ed edition, July 1999.


Select Press

TimeOut New York, Interview, April 16, 2012

The New York Times, Art in Review, Ken Johnson, April 5, 2012

GalleristNY, New York Observer, Giverny Meets the Emerald City at The Hole, April 2, 2012