The artist’s world is not guided by simplistic dichotomies of white and black, master and slave, captor and captive, but challenges viewers to consider the range of humanity involved in a global empire.
In 2003, after relocating from Chicago (IL), to Los Angeles (CA) Umar Rashid (Chicago, Il. U.S.A 1976) began to write and illustrate the history of the Frenglish Empire 1648-1880 (a portmanteau of France and England) based on the supposition that the historically antagonistic empires of France and England made a tenuous peace and unified into a single, gargantuan, colonial empire.
The Frenglish Empire ruled over a large swath of the planet, often challenged by the historical, traditional empires of Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Prussia, Austria (and client states of the Holy Roman Empire), Russia, and the Ottomans. However, the main focus of his work is the stories and reinvented histories of people of color, who are oftentimes marginalized and omitted from the historical record, and the intricacies of race, gender, class, and overall power in the colonial world. In the process of writing and illustrating this history, the artist has created alternative narratives that reference the main narrative and focuses on the cosmologies of the empires, with a focus on religion and spirituality. And the common thread throughout the work (aside from the written narrative) employs iconography as a place marker between past, present, and future. This element is realized in the oeuvre in the “Imperial Tattoo System” (a classifying mechanism he uses to define and differentiate the characters in the story) and within the maps, and cosmological diagrams.
The narrative is also massively informed by the hip hop culture of his youth (golden age), various (modern and ancient) pop culture references, gang and prison culture, and revolutionary movements throughout time. Umar Rashid currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He has exhibited his works internationally in important institutions and private galleries.
Interviews, Posted on 12/05/2020
#ArtistWor(l)d: 5 questions to Umar Rashid and Andrew GilbertRead more
Events, Posted on 08/02/2020
For the second time we’ll be present in the art fair with a booth which features three sections, in collaboration with Studio d’Arte Raffaelli.Read more
Events, Posted on 08/04/2019
On Thursday, April 4, Cellar Contemporary and Studio d’Arte Raffaelli inaugurate the exhibition whose protagonists are Andrew Gilbert, Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič and Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers).Read more
by Davide Raffaelli