Rashid Johnson

Newgro - sharpening my oyster knife

14.06.2008 -

Rashid Johnson grew up in Chicago. He belongs to a young generation of Afro-American artists who, in an extremely critical way, make the search for the roots of their cultural origins the basic theme of their artistic and social debate.

Johnson says, for example: "In this country we are treated almost like foreigners, so we develop a language that is almost foreign. That is the origin of slang or urban dialects. " But how is it possible for an artist to develop individual strategies, tied to their own ethnic group, when the milestones of art were for a long time almost without exception set by whites? Does respect for the achievements of the "white" avant-garde already mean betrayal of "blackness", and how does being black express itself when it does not inevitably come from the street or from poverty, but from the intellectual middle class of educated artists?

Rashid Johnson, White People Love Me, 2006

Rashid Johnson, Sun, 2008

Johnson's artistic strategies are open in terms of means and techniques. They range from photography, painting and sculpture to performance, and they go beyond that, penetrating everyday cultural forms of communication, language and music. They are aesthetically inappropriate and politically provocative. Johnson's artistic expressions are linked to the black subculture, to graffiti and rap, but they are not based on emotional expression, but on intellectual reflection. The exhibition shows a number of new works that Johnson produced especially for Magdeburg, his first personal exhibition in Europe, as well as loans from Amsterdam, Vienna, Copenhagen and Chicago. In the past two years, works by the artist have been acquired by important public collections in the USA, such as the Whitney Museum of Art / New York, Chicago Art Institute, Seattle Art Museum. Rashid Johnson was born in 1977 and lives in New York. Some of his works were on view at the Kunstmuseum Magdeburg 2006/2007 in the exhibition "A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu - colours".



Rashid Johnson. Sharpening my Oyster Knife
Edited by Uwe Gellner, 2009
Texts germ./engl.: Uwe Gellner, Rashid Johnson in conversation with Uwe Gellner
63 p., numerous illustrations, Softcover
Bielefeld, Kerber Verlag
ISBN 978-3-86678-251-8
15.80 Euro