Umar Rashid at Johannes Vogt

Artist: Umar Rashid

Exhibition title: The Messier Objects. (You Get the Gods You Deserve). Part 3 of The Americas 1795.

Venue: Johannes Vogt, New York, US

Date: March 3 – 30, 2017

Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Johannes Vogt

Johannes Vogt is pleased to present “The Messier Objects. (You Get The Gods You Deserve). Part 3 of The Americas. 1795,” the first solo exhibition by Los Angeles–based artist Umar Rashid (Frohawk
Two Feathers) at the gallery. The show brings together recent paintings, drawings, sculptures, and tile works as a continuation of Rashid’s narrative incorporating the historical fiction centered on the Kingdom of Harlem.

Rashid’s conceptual roadmap of “The Messier Objects” is a tapestry of events depicting the creation and subsequent dissolution of the fictitious Kingdom of Harlem (1790-1795). The title is in reference to astronomical objects that can be seen from the earth, as defined by the French astronomer Charles Messier in the late 18th century. At the same time, it is a play on the modern slang term for a complicated and troublesome affair. Rashid further notes that the show applies the “concept of apparent magnitude to identify the brightest objects/people that can be observed by the naked/untrained eye. Often times the brightest stars attract the most people but that phenomenon is based less on their worth and more on their flashiness.”

Rashid embeds the Kingdom of Harlem in the context of the fictional nation of Frengland. In this episode the Empire has collapsed and various city-states have formed in its wake. The narrative centers “on the lives of the free black people who helped reclaim New York, or Novum Eboracum, from the Dutch while carving out various kingdoms and principalities within that geographical sphere. A soldier of Dutch Guianese decent, and his wife, founded the Kingdom of Harlem as a haven for black people within the polarized European, colonial sphere. External forces constantly harassed the Kingdom of Harlem until its collapse shortly after the assassination of its leaders.”

Rashid concludes by saying the following: “Mirroring the present day and history of America, in which margianalized people of color struggle to balance dignity and prosperity while having to accommodate the majority status quo, the Kingdom of Harlem was a tightrope act. Attacked on all sides, the perseverance of that nation became an inspiration but eventually failed due to various internal and external pressures.”

Artistically Rashid is translating his varied drawing practice into new territory. His latest body of work is almost exclusively produced on canvas while making use of restlessly produced letter sized felt pen drawings. Deliberately merging the processes of drawing and painting, the outcome of these pieces exceeds the traditional limitations of each individual medium. As always, the syncretism of Egyptology, Christianity, Vodoun, and Native American cosmology plays a prominent role in these works. The artist concludes: “Less episodic than my usual work, the mood of this particular offering is more lyrical, eschewing most of the portraiture synonymous with my oeuvre and replacing that with bold, graphic representations of a re-imagined colonial world at war.”

Umar Rashid was born in 1976 in Chicago and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. His most recent solo exhibition is currently still on view at the Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries
of Contemporary Art (Memphis, TN); further solo shows include the Hudson River Museum (Yonkers, NY); the Wellin Museum of Art (Clinton, NY); the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, NJ); the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, NV); and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver, CO). Rashid exhibited as a MATRIX artist at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT, in 2014. Rashid was featured in group shows at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA); the Burlington City Arts (Burlington, VT); and Guerrero Gallery (San Francisco, CA). His work is part of the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Progressive Collections, 21C Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Wellin Museum of Art, among others. His work has been reviewed, among others, in Art in America, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), “Zenithing in the time of yeah, it’s all good mostly.” Break the chains! Stele for the coronation of Horace and Isabel, the King and Queen of Harlem., 2017 Acrylic, ink, and photocopy transferred to canvas, 60 x 40 inches (152.40 x 101.60 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Ma’atism. The pleasure principle. When laws were stern and justice stood. Ma’at and Isfet, two halves of the whole while everyone else trying to get paid, get over, or simply stay alive. Twirling silently in space., 2017, Acrylic, ink, and photocopy transferred to canvas, 48 x 48 inches (121.92 x 121.92 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), The Historical Origin of diabetes: Or, Black Power/ White Wealth “Suiker”. All of Europe like, “Let’s get it” and everyone else like “nah bruh”., 2017, Acrylic and ink on paper transferred to canvas, 48 x 48 inches (121.92 x 121.92 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Laacoon and Sons. Another tragedy. Stele for the Battle of Troy. The crushing loss that became victory. Or Zeus vs. Typhon., 2017, Acrylic, ink, and photocopy transferred to canvas, 60 x 40 inches (152.40 x 101.60 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Jocasta, steward of New Thebes. A Portrait of tragedy and triumph with gold brushed on to hide the bruise. Messier no. 65, 2017, 36 x 36 inches (91.44 x 91.44 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Jeroen the Just, Pharaoh of Novum Eboracum and Harlem. Messier by the Object., 2017, Ink, tea, and coffee on paper mounted to canvas, 30 x 22 inches (76.20 x 55.88 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Isabel, Queen of Harlem. The good mother we all wished we had. Messier no. 41., 2017, Ink, tea, and coffee on paper mounted to canvas, 30 x 22 inches (76.20 x 55.88 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Horace, King of Harlem. Messier Object 125 and Lennox, 2017, Ink, tea, and coffee on paper mounted to canvas, 30 x 22 inches (76.20 x 55.88 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Flag of the Kingdom of Harlem. Residence of Ogun and Shango., 2017, Cotton, 64 x 36 inches (162.56 x 91.44 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Majestic, successor to Supreme of the Axes of Ogun., 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 10 x 8 inches (25.40 x 20.32 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Tisiphone of The Furies., 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 14 x 11 inches (35.56 x 27.94 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Gayle can survive an apocalypse. She is just that good., 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 14 x 11 inches (35.56 x 27.94 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Red Arm of the huron Empire, 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 14 x 11 inches (35.56 x 27.94 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Alecto, leader of The Furies, 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 10 x 8 inches (25.40 x 20.32 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Flavius Aetius, brigadier general of the Army of the North River, 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 14 x 11 inches (35.56 x 27.94 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), River People (after Pastorius, Shorter, Zawinul, and Mouzon.), 2017, Hydrocal plaster and pigment, 14 x 5 x 3 inches (35.56 x 12.70 x 7.62 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), River People (after Pastorius, Shorter, Zawinul, and Mouzon.), 2017, Hydrocal plaster and pigment, 14 x 5 x 3 inches (35.56 x 12.70 x 7.62 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Ogun/Shango canopic jar., 2017, Hydrocal plaster and pigment., 12 x 6 x 12 inches (30.48 x 15.24 x 30.48 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Ogun/Shango canopic jar., 2017, Hydrocal plaster and pigment., 12 x 6 x 12 inches (30.48 x 15.24 x 30.48 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Novum Eboracum (New York), 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Let’s go uptown! Map of the Bartican Kingdom of Harlem., 2017, Acrylic and ink on panel, 14 x 11 inches (35.56 x 27.94 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), 125 R.I.P. H and I on the saddening occasion of their assassination Beauty in the hideous. Or, They say money’s the root of all evil but I can’t tell You know what I mean, pesos, francs, yens, cowrie shells, dollar bills., 2017, Cowrie shells on leather and cow rawhide, 47 x 36 inches (119.38 x 91.44 cm)

Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la gouverneurs. Or, Borough Check. The old money don’t want a new world so the Revolution had to get sabotaged somehow. Murder was the case. And Horus wept. 1793., 2016, Acrylic, ink, and mica flake on canvas, 44 x 66 x 2 inches (111.76 x 167.64 x 5.08 cm)

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