Among The Palm Trees: Rashid Johnson at the Milwaukee Art Museum

An exhibition of recent sculptures and paintings by Rashid Johnson opens June 23, 2017 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Hail We Now Sing Joy includes a number of large-scale work including Antoine’s Organ, Anxious Audience, Falling Man and Escaping Collage. Johnson, who is now based in New York, studied at Columbia College Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 2000s. He was offered his first solo exhibition at Schneider Gallery in River North after presenting his photography portfolio for a group show, and he had his first major solo museum exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2012. 

Johnson is now known for his use of glass panes, white ceramic tiles, shea butter, black soap, and wax to create compelling and immersive installations. Antoine’s Organ, for instance, the centerpiece of the exhibition, which was shown at Hauser & Wirth in New York in 2016, features a 10 foot tall grid of black scaffolding filled with lush houseplants in handmade pots. Embedded within the leafy greens are analog screens playing his early video work alongside neon tubes and shea butter figurines. Johnson noted, “As a kid I remember thinking that if you could actually live in a place with palm trees, if you could get away from the city and the cold, that meant you’d definitely made it.”

Rashid Johnson: Hail We Now All Sing Joy is on view June 23-September 17, 2017.