Rashid Johnson in his studio, 2019. Photo: Chris Sorensen/Redux

Artist Choice Online Viewing Room: Rashid Johnson

22 September 2019

For Art Basel Miami Beach, we're excited to feature a series of new ceramic works by Rashid Johnson in support of non-profit ‘Prep for Prep’.

Complementing our current exhibition, ‘The Hikers’, on view in our New York gallery through January 2020, the inaugural Artist Choice Online Viewing Room offers a dynamic new format for the artist to both highlight his ongoing exploration of clay as a medium, and support his beneficiary of choice.

The vessels' glazed surfaces provide Johnson with an intimate forum for painterly and sculptural investigation. Echoing the unique hand-painted tiles incorporated in the artist's new mosaic paintings, Johnson explores his anxious and broken men in three dimensions. This theme, which has become synonymous with the artist's practice, is present in each of these figurative sculptures, sometimes more than once.

Installation view, ’Rashid Johnson. Untitled Bust, 2019 © Rashid Johnson Photo: Thomas Barrett

Installation view, ’Rashid Johnson. Untitled Bust, 2019 © Rashid Johnson Photo: Thomas Barrett

Departing from Johnson’s historic use of shea butter to create busts, these ceramic versions reimagine this form of portraiture seen repeatedly in Western art history. Their nervous, grimacing expressions have been scratched and pinched across the surface and reimagined as habitats for plants, transforming their function from sculptures to living environments, amplified by their organic and earthy color scheme.

These ceramic sculptures by Johnson take on a shamanistic quality. The vessels form a framework and can be perceived as an ecosystem for forms of life, drawing on the themes of nature and botany which appear in the artist's past works. Johnson's chosen charity beneficiary of the viewing room is Prep for Prep. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the purchase of the works online will be donated to this not for profit organization founded in 1978 with a stated mission to 'develop ethical and effective leaders who reflect our diverse society for the enduring benefit of all'.

Each year Prep for Prep helps New York City’s most promising students of color prepare for success at independent schools throughout the Northeast. For more information please see: prepforprep.org – The Artist Choice Online Viewing Room will open on 22 November and remain on view through the close of Art Basel Miami Beach on 8 December 2019. The works are available for purchase online only.