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The Hikers…Rashid Johnson’s new show

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Huge mixed media canvases, primarily mosaics tell the story for of a fear that’s taken its unholy space since the Trump election. Broken Man, the breaking that many of us are feeling, especially men and boys of the Black community are in these works. But the breaks don’t seem fatal.The glass may be cracked, but the whole survives with strength and dignity.

There are two ways to see these works: micro, the fine detail of hand made tiles, splattered with markings and jeweled mirrors –then step back to macro, where the imposing figures, perhaps tribal, perhaps religious loom over the rest of the piece. At the talk back, Rashid, the most affable of fellows, is completely comfortable with himself and his art. He answered queries with delight, seeming to really enjoy what he was learning by answering these questions.

His film, The Hikers, is for me a meditation on nature and our species. One masked man dances alone, his arms extending out to the trees, as if he were part of tree, his own sinewy limbs moving in the wind. When he notices another, much like himself, now in the same space, I couldn’t help but think of two male creatures of any number of species, recognizing a potential competitor in its midst. But this was more of a mirror dance, finding compatibility of movement instead of domination.

There is also a living sculpture in the middle room. It is a black trunk like base which houses many different types of green plants, each emerging from its own secret space’ perhaps a reminder of how life forms can live with each other, separate, but still united in the comfort of its home base.

The show can be seen at Hauser & Wirth on 22nd Street until January 25.

Written by nancykoan

November 12, 2019 at 2:23 am

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