Sunday, January 1, 2012

POST: Rashid Johnson / Modern Painters / December 2011 - January 2012

Rashid Johnson, Cosmic Slop "Black Orpheus," 2011, Black soap. 72 x 96 x 1 3/4 inches. 
Photo by Martin Parsekian via 

Rashid Johnson, who has just joined Hauser & Wirth Gallery, will have his first show at its East 69th Street, New York, branch, opening on January 11. Alanna Martinez visited the artist in his Brooklyn studio to discuss the move and his distinctive sculptural technique.

Why Hauser & Wirth?

It's a gallery with a lot of important artists ans seems to show a tremendous amount of commitment to them. I became even more interested when a friend of mine, Matthew Day Jackson, started showing there. I also like the way my work functions in smaller domestic spaces. Although that space is not particularly small, it does have a strong domestic feel to it -- especially on the second floor.

Can you describe your recent work?

In some ways it hijacks familiar materials from the home. I've been working quite a bit with hardwood flooring, a lot of mirrors, and what are essentially bathroom tiles. I take a domestic space, appropriate them, and give them a different life.

The bathroom tiles are an interesting choice.

When I was in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago, I started going to a Russian-Turkish bathhouse once or twice a week. I would sit there in the corner shvitzing like a lunatic  and pouring over whatever I was reading. On the walls they had classic white bathroom tiles, which were often what I looked at when I lifted my head from the page to consider what I'd just read. I think it suggests a cleansing space, a place where I was clearing my head as well as clearing out toxins.

How do you want people to interact with your art in a gallery space?

I've never been interested in dictating. Installation shows give you an opportunity to create a micronarrative. But the people who come into the space don't need to navigate the narrative.

The December 2011/January 2012 issue of Modern Painters is on newsstands now.

January 11 - February 25, 2012
32 East 69th Street
New York, NY

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