Rashid Johnson - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Monday, June 29, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Massimo de Carlo, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The generation I grew up with always had this feeling of authorship, of authoring a space, and that included materials that you can call your own and no one else can use without referencing you." - RASHID JOHNSON

    Born in the late 1970s into a Chicago-based family, Rashid Johnson’s early upbringing provided a rich source of experience through which to explore the constructs of identity. The family’s Afrocentric cultural outlook informed much of his childhood; then, when Johnson was thirteen, his parents began to actively withdraw themselves from Afrocentric ideology, choosing to slip into a more conventional middle-class American existence. By his own admission, Johnson found this sudden shift in family values difficult to understand. ‘I was trapped in this space that my parents had created that was no longer relevant. For me, it became the catalyst to investigate – seriously and with humour – an African identity within an American culture.’ Herein lies the genesis of Johnson’s creative output; interspersing his exploration of identity with culturally significant artefacts from his past, the artist’s work forms a dialogue which deliberates notions of race, stereotype and selfhood, animating his work with a continuing narrative associated with the ‘post-black’ movement.

    The present lot, comprised of black soap and wax on panel, appropriates a west African dermatological agent for sensitive skin as a monochromatic surface for the artist’s gestural mark marking. The fluid drips of soap and wax set against the rigid geometric panel background retain a street graffiti-like quality. The purposeful punches of black on the panel wall feel defiant – almost in protest of the inflexible line underneath. Both subversive and enigmatic, New Lines pulls the viewer into the artist’s conversation, conjuring questions of layered meanings within the raw materiality of this striking work.


New Lines

mirrored tiles, black soap, wax on panel
184 x 126 cm (72 1/2 x 49 5/8 in.)
Signed 'Rashid Johnson' on the reverse.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £56,250

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 30 June 2015 2pm