Rashid Johnson: New Growth
february 21–June 15, 2014
In Rashid Johnson: New Growth, the artist works with personally and historically loaded material such as shea butter and black soap, combining it with LP covers and books in complex paintings, sculptures and installations. His works challenge conventional representations of collective identity. Beginning with the question, “What would happen if Sun Ra, George Washington Carver and Robert Smithson started a community together in the desert?” New Growth's playful scrutiny intertwines cosmology and escapism in an attempt to blur the lines separating past, present and future.
The physical manipulation of biomaterial into an abstract, aestheticized form is a concept that runs through all of the works in the exhibition. Johnson references the ongoing transformation of both bodies and landscapes, and the identities embedded within them. New Growth features newly commissioned works including the video Samuel in Space and the Shea Butter Irrigation System. Works in wax, burned wood, tile and mirror, as well as brass chairs, wood chairs and rugs round out the exhibition.
Rashid Johnson was born in 1977 in Chicago. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Johnson was recently the subject of the solo exhibition Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, an exhibition that traveled to the Miami Art Museum, the Kemper Art Museum and the High Museum of Art. His work has been included in group exhibitions such as Shanghai Biennale, REACTIVATION, Shanghai, China, 2012; Venice Biennale, ILLUMINations, Venice, Italy, 2011; For the Love of the Game: Race and Sports, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 2007; and Freestyle, The Studio Museum, 2001. Johnson was the recipient of the 2012 David C. Driskell Prize.
Rashid Johnson: New Growth was organized by Fairfax Dorn for Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX. The exhibition will be presented in the Vicki & Kent Logan Promenade, the Natasha Congdon Gallery, the Mary Caulkins & Karl Kister Gallery and the Joseph Crescenti Family Gallery from February 21 through June 15, 2014.
The exhibition was made possible by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; National Endowment for the Arts; the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston; Texas Commission on the Arts; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; Meyer Levey Charitable Foundation; and Hauser & Wirth; with generous contributions by Ballroom Marfa members.
MCA Denver would like to thank Tina Walls for helping to underwrite this exhibition. Additional support has been provided by the MCA Denver Director's Vision Society and the Colorado Creative Industries.
image: Rashid Johnson. Phoenix Bird (detail), 2013. Burned red oak flooring, black soap, wax and spray enamel. 96 1/2 x 72 1/2 x 3/10 in. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, New York.