“Rashid Johnson: Message to our Folks,” the first major solo exhibition for Johnson, is a collage of materials, metaphors and metaphysics. In works spanning more than a decade Johnson explores the idea of creation, identity, self and art through the lens of African-American culture.
Born in Chicago in 1977 Rashid Johnson now lives and works in New York. His conceptual work, albeit heavily influenced by his own experiences growing up as an African-American in the late 70s and 80s, leaves room for interpretation. Contrary to any intentional fallacy the viewer can simply explore the works and start an individual and unique dialogue.
“Rashid Johnson’s unusual vocabulary of materials and innovative mixing of diverse forms and cultural references makes him one of the most vital and interesting artists working today,” says MAM chief curator and deputy director Tobias Ostrander.
Johnson’s oeuvre is a diverse collection of works including painting, photography, film, wood burn, mixed media installation and sculpture. He references icons from African-American culture like W.E.B. Du Bois, Miles Davis, Malcolm X and Public Enemy by incorporating books and records in his assemblages, installations and photography. Other references are made via music such as the soundtrack of Melvin Van Peebles’ indie film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” from 1971 into his video installation “Sweet Sweet Runner.” Allusions to Kung Fu movies, popular in the African American communities in the 80s, can be seen in his work as often as references to black scholars like socialist and Pan-Africanist Du Bois. A title such as “Triple Consciousness,” pays homage to Du Bois’ classic socio-historical essay compilation “The Souls of Black Folk” from 1903.
Some of Johnson’s most well known work are his portrait series, which he began in early 2000. The artist is inspired by the likes of American reformer, abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass and also depicts himself as various fictional members of the “The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club.”
to continue reading please visit www.miamiartzine.com