Moderna Museet

Rashid Johnson

Seven Rooms and a Garden

30 Sep 2023 - 08 Sep 2024

Installation view, "The Garden" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
Installation view, "The Garden" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
Installation view, "The Salon" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
Installation view, "The Salon" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
From the left: Untitled, Lee Bontecou, 1959 ©️ Lee Bontecou 2023 All Rights Reserved. Painting Made by Dancing, Niki de Saint Phalle, Robert Rauschenberg, 1961 © Niki Charitable Art Foundation/Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Tertia, Barnett Newman, 1964 © Barnett Newman / Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Brace, Ellen Gallagher, 1997 ©️ Ellen Gallagher. Punch, Peek & Feel, Lee Lozano, 1967-1970 © The Estate of Lee Lozano. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Carnation sanguine, Jean Dubuffet, 1950 © Jean Dubuffet / Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Emblema 70, Rubem Valentim, 1970 © Rubem Valentim. Untitled, Toshimitsu Imaï, 1981 © Toshimitsu Imaï. Roman Notes, Cy Twombly, 1970 © Cy Twombly Foundation. Utan titel, Ernest Mancoba, 1962 Courtesy: Estate Ferlov Mancoba, Copenhagen
Installation view, "The Salon" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
From the left: Tadana VI, Tadeusz Kantor, 1957 ©️ Tadeusz Kantor. The Wooden Horse: Number 10 A, Jackson Pollock, 1948 ©The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Untitled (Edge Painting), Sam Francis, 1968 © 2023 Sam Francis Foundation, California / Bildupphovsrätt. Transparent Painting: Ultramarine Blue, Marcia Hafif, 1982 ©️ Marcia Hafif. Journey, Herbert Gentry, 1973 © Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos. Deux têtes, Karel Appel, 1964 © Karel Appel/Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Til min søster, Asger Jorn, 1952 © Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/ Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Figure in Marsh Landscape, Willem de Kooning, 1966 © The Willem de Kooning Foundation, New York/Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Variation sur un rectangle, Jean Fautrier, 1957 © Jean Fautrier / Bildupphovsrätt 2023. Sans titre, Etel Adnan, 1973 ©️ Etel Adnan. Off Square, Stanley Whitney, 2016 © Stanley Whitney
Installation view, "Witness" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
From the left: Bruise Paintings “Song for Charles”, “Old Time Religion”, “Dexterity”, “Get in Line”, ”A Jackson In Your House”, “The Waltz”, Rashid Johnson, 2023 © Rashid Johnson
Installation view, "Jazz" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
Installation view, "The Garden" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
Rashid Johnson, "Home", 2023 Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet © Rashid Johnson
Installation view, "Black and Blue" Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet
In the exhibition Seven Rooms and a Garden, the work of American artist and filmmaker Rashid Johnson is in conversation, confrontation and at times collusion with the collection of Moderna Museet. Each room in the exhibition – and a garden – stages an encounter based on the personal, political and art historical relationships that unfold in his practice.

Rashid Johnson (b. 1977, Chicago, USA) is recognised as one of the most influential artists of his generation. In his paintings, sculptures, films, performances and photographs, he draws from his own biography, as well as numerous art and cultural histories, to reflect on the human condition at a time of great upheaval.

Abstraction as a source of life

For Rashid Johnson, abstraction is a source of life. In his Bruise paintings or the more recent God series, both of which are included in the exhibition, the abstract painterly mark is an expression of a spiritual or psychological journey. His monumental installation Home (2023), made especially for this exhibition, is an abstract self-portrait that uses shea butter sculptures, books and the growth of plant life to lend form to Black intellectual and cultural histories. Or the abstract gesture occurs through subtle interventions, from rearranging the architecture of Moderna Museet to introducing images, sounds and scenographies that reset how we experience the space of art and the museum.

In all the works and interventions in Seven Rooms and a Garden, Johnson explores the gesture of abstraction as an art historical lineage, a political necessity or a personal appeal.

The exhibition as a home

The space of the home is an important source of inspiration for Johnson, and serves as a model for Seven Rooms and a Garden.

Johnson says: “I’ve always been interested in the domestic. And kind of hijacking things that we’re familiar with and essentially occupying them.”

His recent film Black and Blue (2021), which features prominently in the exhibition, is a case in point. Mainly situated in the artist’s home, the work depicts the life of the protagonist, played by Johnson himself, as he goes through his daily routines of eating, driving, exercising, spending time with his family and sleeping. A tension is felt in Black and Blue between what is public and private, what is familiar and unknown, what is expected and what actually occurs. In this unconventional self-portrait, Johnson returns the gaze to the intimate endeavours of being human.

The artist’s home in Black and Blue is expanded in the exhibition to seven rooms and a garden – an interior of Rashid Johnson’s practice, with artists in Moderna Museet’s collection as likely and unlikely inhabitants.

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