LAGOS.- The title for the show, The Undiscovered Genius of the Niger Delta. An Unexpected Journey Into Chaos Told From The Perspective Of Someone Who Wasnt There, 1799 describes the artists 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 hes 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 persons decisions to enlist with the Company and what theyve 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 Wasnt There. 1799 is his first exhibition in Lagos.
Rashids 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.