The oeuvre by Chicago born artist Rashid Johnson (b. 1977, lives and works in New York) is abundant in references to Afro-American culture: Shea butter, African animal skins, and/or icons of Afro-American literature and music are the subjects that appear in ever changing constellations. Over the years these references have developed into an individual iconography; they have emancipated from their origin, while retaining a strong connection to the place from which they were born.
The colour black has long been prominent in the artist’s works; and thus the walls of the main hall will feature this colour for the first time in the history of the Kunsthalle. They provide a stage for a selection of wall based works that are also dominated by the colour black, and additionally to a new installation that Johnson produced for the show in Winterthur.
To counter this almost self-sufficient presence of art in the main hall, the other rooms show a selection of works that invite the visitor much more directly – and colourfully – to engage with them. Objects such as Persian rugs, mirrors and a bed appear, making reference to a more general domestic background. Over the years, the abundance of references has increasingly merged with an opulence of materials; the result is a universe that behaves autonomously, mysteriously and completely sovereign, while also maintaining a strong connection to the viewer.