Tiwani Contemporary is delighted to announce its forthcoming exhibition, ‘Umar Rashid: The Undiscovered Genius of the Niger Delta. An Unexpected Journey Into Chaos Told From The Perspective of Someone That Was Not There, 1799’.
Umar Rashid, Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last. A Frenglish Corvette engages with a Portuguese Frigate off the coast of Idyllic Aotearoa. Simultaneously, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi and a Mania Spring from the waters in the shadow of the mountain and T, 2023. Acrylic and mica flake on canvas, 213.4 x 182.9 x 3.8cm. Courtesy of the artist and Tiwani Contemporary.
Tiwani’s first show of 2023 in its Lagos space, the presentation coincides with Umar’s residency in the city as part of Tiwani’s collaboration with Guest Artists Space Foundation (GAS), Lagos.
Rashid’s deep engagement with how history is retold, shared and experienced led him to become the cosmographer of his own fictional universe, chronicling the exploits of the Frenglish Empire around the globe in paintings, sculpture, moving-image and literature. The works are contextually grounded in the period of Western European expansionism during the 16th-19th centuries, and he imaginatively interferes with the formal accounts of what we know of these periods in his use of visual fabulation – a simultaeneous mix of historical and current day vernacular that references political, and socio-cultural phenomena, fantasy and speculative propositioning. The interplay works towards questioning the concept of free will: How do we as individuals and members of families and communities take responsibility for the construction of the narratives and conversations that structure and inform our experiences of the world? To what extent are we the true authors of our own destinies?
The title for the show, ‘The Undiscovered Genius of the Niger Delta. An Unexpected Journey Into Chaos Told From The Perspective Of Someone Who Wasn’t There. 1799’ describes the artist’s estranged position and approach to understanding and building familiarity to the kinship groups, country and continent he descends from as a process of orientation in a country he’s never physically been to. In this new series of twelve works on canvas, Rashid questions what forms of agency, thought and self-determination could individuals have experienced during the 16-19th centuries that could shape regional or world events for better or for worse? To what extent are black and brown subjects complicit in the formation of the world-shaping events that colonialism enacts?
Rashid uses the lyrics and structure of the song 1999, by the late American musician Prince, to pace the trajectories of four protagonists, who in 1799 leave the land that would eventually become known as Nigeria 98 years later (in 1897). He imagines individuals from the Fulani/Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and Calabar/Efik cultural groups embarking on journeys that support the mercenary activity of Company Crocodile, a black military regiment of the Frenglish Empire. The exhibition includes portraits and scenic paintings that shed light on the personal thoughts and circumstances shaping each person’s decisions to enlist with the Company and what they’ve witnessed.
Umar Rashid is an American multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his BA in cinema and photography from Southern Illinois University. Recent shows include Sharjah Biennial 15, Sharjah, UAE (2023) and MOMA PS1, New York, US (2022-23) and his work is included in the collections of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jorge Perez Collection, Brooklyn Museum amongst others. Rashid has been presented by Tiwani contemporary since 2020; ‘The Undiscovered Genius of the Niger Delta. An Unexpected Journey Into Chaos Told From The Perspective Of Someone Who Wasn’t There. 1799’ is his first exhibition in Lagos.
Rashid’s recent shows include: Sharjah Biennial 15, Sharjah, UAE (2023), MOMA PS1, New York, US (2022-23), Cokkie Snoei, Rotterdam, NL (2022); Almine Rech, Paris, France (2022); Half Gallery, New York, USA (2021); Blum & Poe, LA, USA (2021); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA in partnership with The Huntington, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, USA, (2020); University of Arizona, Tucson, USA (2018); University of Memphis, Memphis, USA (2017); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, USA (2014); Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, USA (2013); the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, USA (2013); the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, USA (2013) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, USA (2012).
His work is included in the collections of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, Jorge Perez Collection, Brooklyn Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Progressive Collection, 21C Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Wellin Museum of Art amongst others.
The exhibition will be on view from the 12th of March until the 13th of May, 2023. For more information, please visit Tiwani Contemporary.