Rashid Johnson

New York, USA
Instead of engaging the struggles of black people, Rashid Johnson wants to explore their strengths, using himself as subject and finding a form for the fluid nature of his aesthetic aspirations on earth.

Many recent works reflect Johnson’s multifaceted engagement with what David Hammons termed “cultural abstraction.” Using sculpture and tightly cropped photographs, the artist explores the semiotic systems and iconography of a mythic secret society of African-American intelligentsia within a metaphysical landscape removed from time and history.

Functioning as investigative reporter and archivist as well as artist, Johnson deploys materials including steel, shea butter, black soap, wax, mirrors, wood, together with found objects to form an installation that effortlessly shifts between media, emphasizing the poetic cadence of his work. Mysticism and nostalgia create interplay among smoke-shrouded portraits, symbolic substances, and menacing forms.

place & year of birth
1977 in Chicago, IL

featured galleries

1996 - 2000
Columbia College, Chicago

2004 - 2005
School at the Art Institute of Chicago

solo exhibitions
The Dead Lecturer, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York
Cosmic Slops, Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
Sharpening My Oyster Knife, Magdeburger Kunstmusuem, Magdeburgy, Germany
Annarumma 404, Naples, Italy

Dark Matters, James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA

group exhibitions
30 Americans, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL
Summer Mixtape Volume One, Exit Art, New York
Ah, Decadence, School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL
Defining a Moment, House of Campari New York
Recent Acquisitions, Focus Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, Cincinnati

For the Love of the Game, Race and Sports, Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
Color Line, Luanda Triennial, Luanda, Angola
Projet Est-Ouest, Espace 72, Dison, Verviers, Belgium
Local Stories, Modern Art Oxford UK


“Museum and Gallery Listings: Creswell Crags,” The New York Times, September 25
Furnari, Rachel, “Fall Openings: A Gallery Preview,” NEWCITY Chicago, September 2
Karafin, Amy, “Rashid Johnson,” ARTnews, May
Cotter, Holland, “The Topic is Race; the Art is Fearless,” The New York Times, March 30
Cotter, Holland, “Art in Review: Rashid Johnson, The Dead Lecturer,” The New York Times, March 28
Baker, R.C., “Best In Show: Rashid Johnson, The Dead Lecturer,” The Village Voice, March 18
Carlin, T.J., 'Art Review: Rashid Johnson, The Dead Lecturer,' Time Out New York, March 12
Schultz, Charlie, “A Look at Rashid Johnson,” ArtSlant.com, March 9
“Medium Cool ,” Time Out New York, March 5


Hackett, Regina, “Rashid Johnson, the “post-black” art movement, and a new take on Olympia, Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, August 8
Graves, Jen, “White People Love Him: The Intergalactic Art of Rashid Johnson,” The Stranger, July 17

The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club

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