Ramis Barquet Gallery is pleased to present Standards, Rashaad Newsome’s first solo exhibition. The show will feature new collage, sculpture and video.
Newsome’s work examines the visual language of power and status, juxtaposing high and low references to challenge received notions of social protocol and hierarchy. In his own words: “My works dismantle power structures, one shiny block at a time.” Sampling heavily from hip-hop and Pop culture, Newsome selects and appropriates a disparate array of visual components, restructuring them into recognizable statements and symbols. In so doing, he challenges established ideas of cultural ownership, and illustrates an acutely contemporary understanding of the way socially specific signifiers convey meaning.
In his collages, Newsome creates powerful status symbols using pieces of cut paper taken from discarded music magazines and auction catalogues. Skillfully appropriating the historical language of blazoning, Newsome acts as the herald of a new generation of fictional armigers, drawn from the world of hip-hop and black youth culture. Gold chain, chrome rims and video girls replace lions, unicorns and coronets; Newsome fashions the coats-of-arms of a bling-centric culture, elevating “ghetto” imagery to the highest status level.
This same language is present in The Conductor (Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi) and The Conductor (Primo Vere, Omnia Sol Temperat), the first and second parts of an ambitious 6 part video installation that sets Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana against a video montage of expressive hand gestures, extracted from popular rap videos, and a musical background of hip-hop beats. As Orff’s iconic oratorio opens with O Fortuna, a closely edited sequence of bejewelled gestures appears to conduct the music.
Rashaad Newsome was born in New Orleans, Louisiana where he received a B.A. in Art History at Tulane University before studying Film at Film Video Arts in New York City. Newsome has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including; The Kitchen, NY; The Project Gallery, NY; Fondation Cartier, Paris; The Veletrzni Palace, Prague; and K.U.E.L., Berlin. Recent Commissions, awards and lectures include: “Shade Compositions 2009” (LMCC Downtown Dinner), 7 World Trade Center, NY; 2009 BAC Community Arts Regrant; 2009 Harvestworks Van Lier Grant; 2009 Summer/Fall Artist in Residence Program, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, NY; 2009/2010 Artist in Residence Program at The Studio Museum In Harlem; 2009/2010 Smack Mellon Artist Studio Program, Brooklyn; 2008/2009 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Artist Residency Program, NY; 2009 BAC Community Arts Regrant, Brooklyn, and New Music Greats, New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY.