Rashid Johnson is among an influential cadre of contemporary American artists whose work employs a wide range of media to explore the themes of art history, individual and shared cultural identities, personal narratives, literature, philosophy, materiality and critical history. For his first solo exhibition in Asia, ‘Nudiustertian’, Johnson has created brand new works, including Bruise Paintings, Surrender Paintings and Seascape Paintings, alongside his mosaics, continuing to work with a complex range of iconographies to explore collective and historical expressions of longing and displacement, while speaking to the times we live in.
Johnson’s oil on canvas painting practice developed in 2020 when he found himself alone with his family in Long Island. Away from his typical materials at his studio, Johnson used what he had available to him, oil sticks and canvas, birthing a new way of working for the artist. Throughout his practice, Johnson selects materials and tools for the importance of their historical narratives, such as shea butter and black soap. Here, the canonically significant and universally recognizable medium of oil paint communicates his message all the more urgently. Portraying crowds of bright red faces, the resulting Anxious Red Paintings update the visual language of his long-established Anxious Men series and are the antecedents for the Bruise Paintings, Surrender Paintings, and Seascape Paintings on view in Hong Kong.