A few Art Fag City friends have excitedly dropped “RUMBLE,” this week, the show of 34 year old Rashid Johnson, opening this Wednesday at Hauser & Wirth. We’re interested too, and for all the reasons you might expect. Since expanding their operations in London and Zurich to New York the gallery has have safely occupied a 69th brownstone, an area of town that seldom showcases the work of young artists. Unsurprisingly, the gallery itself bases a large portion of their business on well-established or downright famous artists at least a generation older than Johnson.
As is the case with most artists who garner representation at large galleries, a cumulative steam roller of press and sales will have contributed to his new position. For Johnson, the first was “Freestyle,” an über-successful group show at the Studio Museum in 2001 that was a healthy source of recognition and exposure for the growing crowd of “post-black” artists. Making brash, erudite work centered around the African American experience, Johnson has been able to borrow from the schools of Pop and Dada to make identity-driven art that’s isn’t close-ended or boring.
Since then, his work has not only found itself in the hands of the famed Rubell Family Collection, but exhibited in their museum in 2008. More recently, his assemblages at the 54th Venice Biennale received supportive (if not altogether glowing) reviews. Since the only member of the AFC team that saw this work describes the experience as having “walked by it”, we’ve got less of an opinion on the matter, but that won’t be the case at Hauser & Wirth.