With the online exhibition ‘Untitled Anxious Red Drawings,’ American artist Rashid Johnson introduces a selection of new works made since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic. Using oil stick on cotton rag paper, the artist has here updated the visual language of his long-established Anxious Men series, in which deceptively crude archetypal faces express the fundamental tensions and traumas that course through contemporary life. By departing from his signature use of black wax to adopt a blood red medium for the first time in this well-known series, Johnson captures the 'life and death' urgency of an unprecedented moment that is now both separating and connecting communities around the globe. His Anxious Red Drawings could be read as history paintings for our times.
Born in Chicago in 1977, Rashid Johnson is among an influential cadre of contemporary American artists whose work employs a wide range of media to explore themes of art history, individual and shared cultural identities, personal narratives, literature, philosophy, matenality, and critical history. Johnson received a BA in Photography from Columbia College in Chicago and studied for his masters at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Johnson's practice quickly expanded to embrace a wide range of media--including sculpture, painting, drawing, film making, and installation--yielding a complex multidisciplinary practice that incorporates diverse materials rich with symbolism and personal history. Johnsons work is known for its narrative embedding of a pointed range of everyday materials and objects, often associated with his childhood and frequently referencing aspects of history and cultural identity. Many of Johnson’s more recent works delve into existential themes such as personal and collective anxiety, interiority, and liminal space.